Lionel Messi is the perfect heir to the throne left vacant by Diego Armando Maradona. There are just two sets of people in the world of football – those who consider him to be far from being the best No. 10, and those who believe that Messi will be even better than Maradona one day. The rest just don’t understand football.
Born in Rosario, Argentina, the boy had hormonal problems that affected his growth at a very young age. It was the Catalans who found some magical stuff within the boy, decided to offer him a trial and the rest as they say is history. So what has made this little boy into a footballing genius ? Is it Barca ? Is it the Xavi-Iniesta-Messi combination? Up until 2012, Messi has been the working axis to the team which has arguably the best midfield partnership in the modern era not only for Barca but across all of Europe. For the majority of top footballers, take away their main asset and they’d become an average player. For example you can basically do three things when you get the ball – dribble, pass, or shoot. Messi can do all the three in a way that no one, not even Ronaldo can do.
The evolution of a winger/striker to a complete player:
Now if i say Messi is not a complete player or he has just turned into one, that would raise some eye brows. Anyway “Messi 2012” is a very different player to the “Messi version” from 2004 to 2011. Messi started his career as a winger and a dribbler. Taking on players has always been his key asset. Dribbling is still an essential key feature of his game but with an ageing Xavi and an injured David Villa, Messi started to take things on his own turning more like a Ronaldo kinda player or a false 9. The Argentine is not known as a goal poacher as, say, Falcao or Van Nistelrooy but his finishing has never let him down, calm and collected always.
But the most under rated quality of Messi is his ability to pass, he can dribble past almost half the men who stand against him and slip in an excellent ball to Xavi or Iniesta, but Messi has always been seen as a dribbler and a finisher. To start by getting the statistics out of the way, he scored 34 goals in 35 games in the league last season and eight in 11 in the Champions League. The only player to provide more assists in the league was Xavi and sadly for Messi he doesn’t have a Messi of his own to pass to. The co-ordination between his feet and ball is probably the best the world has ever seen, regardless of whether he found the net or not, fans could be sure that Messi would illuminate the game with a moment of magic, whether it be a pass, a trick or of course is incomparable dribbling ability. It is this combination aesthetic pleasure with brutal efficiency that marks out Messi as head and shoulders above his rivals.
During the initial stages his carrer, Messi stuck to his position at the right as the likes of Henry, Eto and Imbrahimovic occupied the center. A long clearance from Puyol or an excellent play from Xavi/Iniesta always ended up at Messi’s feet who in turn placed the ball in the back of the net. But now, Messi has turned more into an all round team player – an internal hub. He takes up the responsibility of building up attacks, much like Xavi, and freeing space for himself and teammates with his dribbling ability – much like Iniesta. This has added up a whole new dimension to the player and the critics who said that Messi cannot perform without Xavi and Iniesta have some what been silenced.
In addition to that, there has always been a statement that Messi is a failure when it comes to football with Argentina and is blamed for Argentina’s poor outing in the 2010 World cup. For starters, Messi was named in the team of the tournament and the fact that Maradona asked Messi to take up a more central role and for a player known for his dribbling and finishing abilities to take up a role of a play maker in a competition like World cup is a huge task. It also ignores the superhuman efforts of Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama who kept Messi at bay with a string of supreme saves.
The little wizard from Argentina turned 25 this June and by the time they play the next world-cup, Messi will be 27, a year older than Maradona when he led Argentina to World Cup Glory and will be completely ready to win the only tournament which he probably played and not won. That will definitely be the cherry on top of the glittering cake.
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