Messi....the undisputed greatest of all-time?
Lionel Messi is by far the best footballer of our generation. His talent and skills are the stuff legends are made of.
But will he end up becoming the greatest player of all time, surpassing the likes of Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbaur, Pelé, Ronaldo Fenomeno, Zinedine Zidane and his boyhood hero, Diego Maradona?
It’s looking like he will.
Leo holds many records, including the most goals in a season in all competitions with 53 (2010 – 11). He dazzles us with his amazing dribbling, excellent vision, field presence, beautiful goals and so much more.
He’s won it all with Barcelona and, as scary as this sounds, it looks like he is beginning the prime of his career.
While most say he will become the greatest of all time, others say there are many things he needs to accomplish in order to get that title.
He has the talent, the skill and the heart to become the greatest.
For the record, he’s not the greatest of all time as of right now, so stop saying he is.
So what does he need to do to become the undisputed greatest player ever?
Here are four things he must accomplish. Let the debate begin!
Messi's dominance of La Liga continues, leaving his rivals behind.
Becoming the greatest of all time starts with becoming the greatest in your league.
It’s inevitable Messi will become the Champions League, as well Barça’s, all-time scorer, so La Liga is the next scoring record Leo must conquer.
Athletic Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra holds the record with 252 goals. Messi currently has 132.
With La Liga filled with mediocre goalkeeping and only one other team with quality defending (Real Madrid) for the foreseeable future, this should be a record Messi can break.
This is due to Barça’s ability to generate great midfielders, which Messi needs to give him the ball. Xavi Hernández has been his No. 1 facilitator ever since Leo stepped on to the Camp Nou pitch.
Iniesta has been as good as Xavi in finding Messi as well.
With the addition of Cesc Fàbregas, the rise of Thiago Alcântara, and the chemistry Messi continues to build with them on the pitch, he should not have a problem scoring goals for years to come.
It is possible for Messi to become the All-Time UCL Winner. 3 down, 4 to go.
If Messi is able to lead Barça to four more UEFA Champions League titles, it would bring two records.
First, Barcelona would have eight European Championships, surpassing AC Milan’s seven and only trailing Real Madrid by one for the club with the most titles.
Secondly, Messi would have seven Champions League titles, becoming the all-time winner in the completion.
He would surpass the record of six titles now held by Real Madrid icon Francisco Gento.
This record may seem far-fetched, but at the age of 24 and with a team that is set up for years of dominance, this feat is very possible.
If Barça are able to win this year’s title in Munich, the record is Messi’s for the taking.
Copa América is never easy, but it's a title Argentina has been longing for.
Now we get to the toughest part of the list—Messi succeeding with the Argentine national team.
Leo’s place in Barcelona history is already set, but it’s time for him to play well and win with his national team. Winning for your country is the aspect of football that separates first class players from the greatest players of all time.
Messi needs to lead Argentina to a Copa América win. So far, Messi hasn’t led Argentina to anything, so it can’t be said he is a leader with that squad. Being a true leader is about getting results.
This year’s Copa América performance was terrible for both Messi and Argentina, to say the least.
Losing as the hosts has led many to question whether Messi will ever be successful wearing the ablicelestes like he is wearing the blaugrana.
The Copa América is the second biggest title Messi could win for Argentina and is a title that country has been longing for. Some say this title is not as important as it seems, but consider this—the handful of players we consider all-time greats have led their national teams to confederation titles.
Players like Cruyff, Platini, Zidane, and Ronaldo.
Most of them carried their teams on their backs to win the title. Copa América is also a tournament Maradona never won with Argentina.
The play of his teammates is a major factor, but Messi is capable of making his teammates better as he’s proven in Barcelona. His teammates on the national team are not chopped liver, either.
Chemistry and real leadership is needed. Lionel needs a win either in 2015 in Brazil or 2019 in Chile to validate his leadership with Argentina and its people.
Messi needs to bring a third star to the albiceleste shirt.
I saved the toughest and most obvious for last—winning the World Cup.
In any sport, to be the undisputed greatest of all time, you have to win the biggest prize in your sport.
Michael Jordan has six NBA titles under his belt, Babe Ruth won seven World Series titles, Joe Montana has four Super Bowl wins and Wayne Gretzky has four Stanley Cups.
In soccer, the all-time greats most people have in their top three have won the World Cup—Pelé, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Zidane and Ronaldo.
While Cruyff and Platini are all-time greats, their legacies are not as fulfilled because they did not win the World Cup.
It’s obviously the toughest accomplishment for Messi. But it is required to be the greatest, plain and simple. Messi has played in two World Cups, and while he did not play much in Germany 2006, he was supposed to be the star of South Africa in 2010.
Messi did not score a goal, and Argentina was humiliated and eliminated by Germany in the quarterfinals.
Now that Argentina will not participate in the 2013 Confederations Cup, the next title Messi can lead Argentina to is the biggest prize of all—Brazil 2014.
Age plays a part in Messi’s chances to win the cup. Leo is 24, so he has two more chances (Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018) to win the World Cup. He won’t be called up at age 35 for Qatar in 2022.
With him being named captain, it is the perfect time for Messi to step up and lead his nation to the title. The pressure to win it all will always be there, and it will not end until he either wins the Cup or he retires without one.
Not only does he need to win it, he needs to play well during World Cup play.
The performances of Beckenbauer in ’74, Maradona in ’86, Zidane in ’98 and Ronaldo in ’02 are examples Messi must emulate.
For Lionel Messi to take his throne as the soccer king, he needs his crown.
That crown is the World Cup.