Lionel Messi – the best in the world?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It really is hard to come up with an original piece on Lionel Messi these days because game after game, kick after kick and goal after goal he is fast becoming the greatest player in the world, and certainly the greatest player of my generation.

Sid Lowe wrote in his Guardian column about Messi a couple of weeks ago, after his sensational hat-trick against Zaragoza – saying:

"He was unbebloodylievable. The milk. The consecrated bread. The dog's dingly-danglies."

Forget about the Special One off the pitch – Jose Mourinho. Lionel Messi is the Special One on it. He lets his feet do the talking, and boy, oh; boy that’s what they did last night. I like many other journalists, fans and bloggers alike have run out of adjectives to describe the Argentine striker.

Amazing, fantastic, sensational, out of this world and unstoppable are the words that are going to be trotted out by the usual media hyperbole surrounding his performance last night. And rightly so, however, he was all that and more.

There may have been suggestions that Messi underperformed at the Emirates last Wednesday night but he was far from invisible last night.

Messi didn’t just score one goal, he didn’t even score two, or three – he scored four.

It was Nicklas Bendtner who gave Arsenal the lead after 18minutes, but after that Messi took over the Camp Nou. First taking advantage of a misplaced ball by Mikael Silvestre to equalize in the 21st minute, he then put the defending champions ahead in the 37th by rounding off a smart build-up play with a shot into the top of goal.

Messi capped off the half with a hat trick, his fourth of 2010 - in the 42nd minute when he scooped the ball over goalkeeper Manuel Almunia - his 27th goal in only 24 appearances.

He wasn’t finished there, albeit he had a couple of chances throughout the second half none managed to find the back of the net until the 88th minute - rounding off a spectacular night by sending the ball through Almunia’s legs to make in 4-1 on the night and 6-3 on aggregate to set up a semi final tie with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan who beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 on the night and 2-0 on aggregate.

There is little doubt that right now Messi is the best in the world. That question of who is the best player in world seem to be popping up more and more recently and have gone from Ronaldo to Rooney to Messi.

Once again, last night, Messi put on a show, an exhibition of his talent for the entire world to see. What amazes me and is something a lot of people forget, this guy is just 22 years old.

Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola recently spoke about Messi saying – “This boy is from a different galaxy. He is from a different world.”

Messi is a once a lifetime player and for those lucky enough to see Maradona in his pomp where he single handedly won Argentina the World Cup in 1986 and went very close in 1990 it must be very special to watch Messi today.

Just to get some perspective I posed the question on twitter last night - What does Messi have to do to become the best player of all-time? Does he need to win the WC?

Here is a sample of what I got back:

@DKDickson - It's the Diego/Napoli thing. But it can't happen in this day and age. But if he leads a team from nothing to glory, he is. Maybe leading Argentina to a World Cup IS leading a team from nothing to glory, since Diego is a shambles. - (Check his blog on Messi)

@CFC8Scott – I’m afraid he will NEVER win the World Cup with Argentina. But I agree with everything else about him.

@nikegoal – Messi was the greatest last year and he will continute to be the best for a long time, he is still getting better

@realmadridtalk – He is the best player right now, but I still think Ronaldo is more complete.

@JimKnight88 – Echoing Lukey Moore’s comment that a player like Messi only comes along once in a lifetime. I’m glad he’s the player of our generation.

There you have it, universal praise for Messi. Another big test awaits for Barcelona this weekend – El Clasico – where ultimately the title will be decided. It is conceivable that we could see yet another footballing masterclass from Messi twice in one week?

Confidence will be high in the Catalan camp ahead of the game and you certainly wouldn’t bet your house on Real Madrid winning it, not by a long shot, despite the game being on their home turf - Barca will go into the game favourites knowing that if they win this then La Liga will be theirs for the taking for the second consecutive season.

Can they do it? With Messi – anything is possible.


Touchline Views

This is a football blog by Ian Walsh, covering all aspects of the game - from the Premier League and La Liga to the slightly mental football stories we all love.

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