But for every Messi, there is a Bojan. A promising player that, for one reason or another, has not achieved the success which their potential demands.
Here are the top 5 incredible players who have never quite lived up to their world-beating potential, who have come up just short of superstardom.
Bojan, formally of Barcelona
At one point, he was the darling of the Blaugrana. With incredible individual talent and a knack for goalscoring proven by his countless records at Barcelona's youth level, Bojan looked set to follow suit and become the club legends that Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi have become.
Despite his indisputable talent, Bojan never quite broke through the ranks at Camp Nou. Messi was the golden boy who broke into the line alongside a host of world class forwards including Eto'o, Ronaldinho, and later on Pedro, David Villa, Henry, Sanchez, and Fabregas joined the ranks.
On any other team Bojan may have shown his true colors early and made his name bigger to the world. He was such a respected figure at Barcelona that he captained the side on several occasions.
In an ultra-talented Barcelona side, there simply was not room for the baby-faced Spaniard. He is still young and has time to prove himself, although he has had a lackluster campaign in Serie A with Roma. Let us hope it's not too late.
Frey, Pictured here on Fiorentina
In 2002, Frey was the backbone of an impressive Parma side who won the Coppa Italia. After a moderately successful few years he joined Fiorentina permanently after spending a fantastic season there on loan, lining up along the likes of Toni and Fiore.
For a period of time he looked the prime candidate to fill the nearly vacant space held by the average Steve Mandanda in the French international set up. In 2008, Hugo Lloris emerged as France's number one netminder and made the spot his own.
After being linked with Arsenal and Milan, Frey's red hot seasons have ceased. Injuries didn't help him and currently he is between the sticks for Genoa, still playing consistent, yet unspectacular, football.
Ricardo Quaresma, for one minute per game, will produce a ridiculous, unbelievable, world-class piece of skill that stuns his opponents and causes fans to scream in delight. For one minute a game he is the best player in the world.
Unfortunately for the other eighty nine plus minutes, he is invisible. In some games, he fails to even produce one second of brilliance.
With his innate talent, he has gone from great team to the next. At Barcelona, he tore his ACL and refused to play under then-coach Frank Rijkaard, only scoring one goal in his season there.
Barca dealt Quaresma to Porto in a deal for Deco, who went on to star in Camp Nou. At first Quaresma was criticized for trying to dribble instead of pass, but eventually he became a fan favorite and a great player for Porto. This propelled his ill-fated transfer to Inter.
With Inter Milan, after an excessive transfer fee of 18 million, Quaresma was terrible. In summary of his time in the capital, he was voted worst player of Serie A in 2008, riding the bench for Inter before he made a desperate, and failed, loan move to Chelsea.
Currently with Beskitas, he has never reached his potential and is now is too old to really show his capability. It's a shame that one of the most talented dribblers of his generation failed to become a balanced player and a true champion.
At 16, Chelsea and Arsenal were both after the Italian playmaker. Aquilani is a great player but has never found the success of great midfielders like Xavi, Steven Gerrard, or Andrea Pirlo. He has great vision and is technically sound but has never truly settled into a great squad.
After positive and consistent play for Roma, where he was a fan favorite, he transferred to Liverpool to fill the boots of the departing Xabi Alonso. He was unlucky to be played out of position and, possibly unfairly, was unable to break through the ranks.
After a moderately successful season on loan at Juventus last season, he is currently playing some of the best football of his career on loan with a great Milan side.
If he can cement his spot with Milan, Aquilani may yet be able to reach his potential and achieve world class status.
Landon Donovan, On loan at Everton
To the American soccer fan, Landon Donovan is world class. He has accomplished more than any other American player in history, having led his country in 3 World Cups and, along the way, racked up the most goals in US National Team history. In America, Donovan is soccer's only genuine superstar.
The unfortunate truth is told by fellow countryman and former teammate Brad Friedel, “You get a player like a Landon Donovan, who in my opinion chose to take the easy road and stay in the States. It’s much harder to ply your trade over here [in England].”
To Americans, Donovan is one of the best in the world. To the rest of the world, Donovan is an above-average statesman who once had a brief, but successful, stint with Everton.
The frustrating part for Donovan is that he has displayed his talent playing against the best. On the international level undoubtedly he has proven his talent, and with his time at Everton, he silenced the majority of his critics with consistent and influential displays against top teams in the EPL. He won player of the month for Everton, but unfortunately was unable to prolong his stay with the Toffees due to his contract with the LA Galaxy.
Perhaps as the face of American soccer he has been put through unlucky circumstances, with his value to the MLS affording him a large price tag which many clubs would be unwilling to pay for a player of 29. Unfortunately for Donovan, being the face of American Soccer, the MLS has been unwilling to let him transfer at a reasonable price.
He will only be a world-class superstar once he proves himself on the world stage. The world stage is in Europe and the World Cup. He has yet to make a real impact on either, and some say it is now or never for Donovan to play overseas and prove to the world how good he really is.
Off to Everton again this year, we must hope this time he is able to extend his contract and end his career with them on a high note.
For more on Donovan: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/985180-donovan-to-everton-why-the-americans-career-will-end-with-this-short-term-deal
Mikel Arteta- Simply put, Arteta will forever live in the shadow of the best crop of midfielder's Spain has ever produced in Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Silva, Busquets, Alonso, and young gun Thiago.
Peter Crouch- His height has made him one of the most expensive football players of all time in combined transfer fees. His potential was nearly as high as his height, and although he's had a successful career, he has never been World Class.
Mancini- Who was worse for Inter? Quaresma or Mancini? Both are extremely gifted flops, but Quaresma is worse due to his hefty price. Mancini also doesn't nearly have the talent potential of Quaresma.
Who else deserves to be on this list? Leave a comment below and be sure to argue your case!