No sooner had Leonel Messi been crowned as the inaugural winner of the FIFA Ballon D’Or 2010, Jose Mourinho, in characteristic fashion, labelled him as ‘undeserving’ of the accolade. He will surely have his reasons,more so in his capacity as the manager of Barca’s biggest rivals,Real Madrid.
While there is no doubting that Messi has more than his share of fanatics, supporting him for each of his acts-extraordinary they may be or not.And there’s no doubting that he deserves each of the praises and accolades bestowed upon him, just for sake of being the exceptional player that he is. But there are still detractors who assert that Messi is still not upto the level of Maradona(probably he still may not be), or he isn’t even the best of this generation(majority of these are Ronaldo fanatics).
Formally, there may never be an award recognising the greatest Soccer player of all time, or even of a particular era. But the least Messi can do is silence all these critics once and for all. There is little suspicion over Messi-ah’s abilities on the ball, what is left to imagination is how Leo would perform when faced with situations which are out of his comfort zone.
This slide show tries to encapsulate all that is missing from Messi’s ‘armour’. It is assumed that the only player that comes anywhere close to Messi,in this era, is Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo other than Maradona being the obvious man to emulate -as such the yardstick would be to surpass the footballing genius of these two men in various areas of football abilities.
It doesn’t take rocket science to make out the fact that its far tougher to play football against the likes of Rory Delaps and Nigel De Jongs, than it is to play against the lesser physical sides which form the La Liga.
One is left to wonder what would Messi do if he comes against mountain-sized defenders in the Premier League, lets say Christopher Samba. Strangling, marauding shoulder- pushes and rash challenges, while ‘bread and butter’ in the Premier League and Bundesliga, aren’t known to the La Liga world.
However,improbable it may sound-Messi would move one step closer to footballing immortality if he takes the premier league by storm, in the same way as he destroys defences in the La Liga.
Take the case of Ronaldo. He played in the Portuguese league initially. He impressed so much at Sporting Lisbon that Man Utd manager Sir Alex signed him up in 2003. He received the FIFA World Player award in 2008 while playing for the Red Devils. He then started plying his trade in Spain with Madrid, where he has, somehow , managed to justify the tag of ‘World’s most expensive player’ by banging in goals for fun in the last two seasons. Now that’s what you call VERSATILITY.
Messi wins matches, Maradona won tournaments.
There is no dearth of legends about Maradona’s heroics in 1986 Mexico and 1990 Italia.
At the same time, Messi’s performances for country leave much to be desired. That too, when he has a more talented bunch of team-mates than Maradona had in 1986. Compare Argentina’s victory 1986 with the 2010 mauling that Argentina received at the hands of Germany- and you know Messi has some way to go before he can be considered anywhere close to Diego.
A look at Messi’s statistics at international level make you more perplexed as to how someone of his calibre and talent fails to impress where it matters the most.
Played :241 Goals 158 Assists:64
Played: 53 Goals :15
(Updated 8th January,2011)
At 23, Messi still has age on his side and In Brazil 2014 much would be expected from the diminutive magician.
This could also be held as a corollary of the first slide.
It is no secret that Xavi and Iniesta, in all probability the greatest midfield duo by a mile, hugely complement Messi’s play and make it a lot more easier for him to open up defences. As such, annihilation of smaller teams while playing along-side Xavi-Iniesta pair, while always pleasing to the eyes, will never make him the greatest soccer player of all time.
What Messi needs to do is probably jump ship, however impractical it may sound. Maradona dragged an average Napoli for years, all on his own. Messi will never be counted amongst the greatest unless he succeeds in another system of football.
This would further mean changing the league itself. Playing in the premier league is definitely far more thougher and gruelling than the easy-like-this La Liga. There is a decent chance that Man Utd will lose against Spurs this weekend. But how many expected Barcelona or Real Madrid to lose when they played Betis and Athletico last weekend?
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how Messi fares against the extremely physical sides like Stoke City and Blackburn?
Messi’s free kicks, while still pretty good, are nowhere close to matching Ronaldo-neither on technique, nor on efficiency. No wonder, Messi doesn’t feature anywhere near the top 5 in the world, when it comes to free-kicks.
Same goes for Headers. Leaving aside the goal in 2009 Champions League final, its rare to see Messi scoring with his head. Maybe its because of his small height and frame-but when you want to be the greatest player ever,excuses aren’t permissible. He has to work on improving both these capabilities.
It wont be exaggeration if its said that Messi has probably the worst right foot in all of football(Ryan Giggs may give him some competition on this front).
Even though his jaw-dropping abilities with the left more than make up for his ‘non-functional‘ right foot,it almost funny to see when he tries to pull off a trick with his right foot, UNSUCCESSFULLY OFCOURSE.
And yes, he probably shoots with his right foot two times in a season.
And see the video about Ronaldo’s abilities with both feet.
OK. SO probably you might have started to think that, if Messi has all these flaws, why aren’t we even considering him as one the greatest ,let alone recognise him as THE greatest.
But once we take into account his mind- boggling close- ball control, lightning speed with the ball, ability to drift past defenders,in addition to the ultra-enviable collection of trophies and personal accolades, its no wonder he is the most wanted player on the planet.
As of now, he is nowhere near Maradona’s level of footballing immortality but, in all probability, has a more than decent chance of being up there when Argentina return from BRAZIL-2014.
Whats your opinion- Does Messi stand a chance of becoming 'The Greatest of All Time'?