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Lionel Messi Has Cemented His Place as Barcelona's Greatest-Ever Player

Rik Sharma@@riksharma_Featured ColumnistNovember 24, 2014

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Laszlo Kubala. Xavi Hernandez. Ronaldinho. Rivaldo. Andres Iniesta. Hristo Stoichkov. Pep Guardiola. Johan Cruyff. Lionel Messi.

Barcelona supporters have many big names to choose from when it comes to selecting who they think is the greatest player in the club's history.

And while everybody will have his or her personal favourite, there can no longer be a debate about who the best player is.

It's impossible to compare a midfielder to a striker in an individual matchup, but the fact remains that football is about scoring goals. As good as a well-timed sliding tackle or a masterful through ball is, nothing beats the feeling of your team getting one over the line.

Messi is the master of that, among plenty of other things. And that's what makes the difference.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Not only is Messi the all-time top goalscorer in the history of both La Liga and Barcelona, but he's also completely brilliant in other areas of the pitch. He doesn't just finish moves like Filippo Inzaghi; he also starts them like Andrea Pirlo.

The likes of Xavi and Iniesta have been completely and utterly crucial to Barcelona's recent era of great success. Take one of them out, and Barcelona would not have been so dominant. Remove Messi, however, and the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Of course, Barcelona aren't a one-man team, but Messi took them from being very good to a level at which they had no equals.

Players such as Cruyff and Kubala have been essential to Barcelona in the past, with the latter perhaps the closest to staking a claim for Messi's throne.

The club's official website describes the Hungarian thus:

Kubala was a player that would change the history of Barca and who became legendary amongst the Club’s fans. The Hungarian genius introduced new football techniques that had not been seen before, such as curling the ball.

The Les Corts grounds had become too small for the outstanding play of a team that dominated Spanish football and performed well at European level. Nobody doubted that the Club needed a bigger stadium.

Messi hasn't forced Barcelona into building a bigger stadium, but if they ever do, a section of it will surely bear his name.

Per Canal+, via The Independent, Xavi says Messi is not just the best player around now but also the best who has ever walked the earth. 

The midfielder stated, "Messi is the best player in the history of football. He makes a difference. He’s the best. No one compares. He’s by far the No. 1 player."

MANU FERNANDEZ/Associated Press

Xavi is right. Messi's hat-trick against Sevillawhich helped him crack Telmo Zarra's record to become the top scorer in Spanish football history with 253 goals in the top flightwas another cherry on the cake. One more goal in the Champions League, and he becomes the all-time top scorer in that competition too.

In truth, the question is not whether Messi is Barcelona's greatest player but whether he is the best the world has ever seen. And it's debatable whether that's a worthwhile question either—there are plenty of people out there who already believe he is.