Is Lionel Messi the Greatest Footballer in History?
In every sport, there is an individual who can make spectators gasp in awe, shout with joy and stare in revered silence at their brilliance. Boxing has Floyd Mayweather, basketball has LeBron James and football has Lionel Messi.
Not only is Messi the star striker of the greatest club side in history, Barcelona, he has broken almost every scoring record in existence in both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. In the 2011-12 season, he set the current goalscoring record in a single Spanish season, scoring an astonishing 50 goals in 38 games. The highest number a Premiership player has managed in the same number of games is 31. At only 25-years-old he became the youngest player to score 200 goals, Barcelona’s record scorer and broke the record for scoring in 21 consecutive league matches.
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In Europe’s most prestigious competition, he became the first and only player to top-score in four consecutive campaigns, the player with the most hat-tricks (four) scored in the history of the competition, the first player to score five goals in one match and joint record holder of the highest number of goals in one competition with 14 in 12 matches. To cap it off, he has won four consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year awards, the highest number of any player in history.
In short, Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer in the world by a tremendous margin.
The records are incredibly impressive in themselves but when you watch Messi actually play, either on screen or live, you can fully appreciate just how phenomenal the Argentine really is. With his small stature but incredible strength, he can slip past defenders as quick as his cheeky wink with the ball super glued to his magical feet.
His dominance of the game over the past four has been so awe inspiring that people are now genuinely asking whether Messi is the greatest footballer of all time. Not since Diego Maradona in 1986 have football aficionados asked that question. If we judged this on club form alone, Messi would surely be ahead of his countryman and the other claimant to the throne, Pelé. Nobody has ever won as much or broke as many records with such style and grace then Messi. But there is one stage yet to conquer for Messi if he wants to nail down that title.
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To be considered equal to or better than Pele and Maradona, Messi has to succeed on the international stage with Argentina. He endured a frustrating time in the 2010 World Cup where he failed to score in five matches for his country as Argentina were knocked out in the quarter finals. Now with nine months to go before he gets another chance in his home continent, Messi has a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his nation.
He’ll be the same age as Maradona was when he almost singlehandedly won Argentina the World Cup in 1986 and inevitable comparisons will be made to both the little masters’ performances at the peak of their powers. But considering his extraordinary performances over the past three and a half years for Barcelona and his improved form for his country, you wouldn’t bet against Messi rubber stamping his already compelling claim as the greatest footballer of all time.