Best of the Best - Part Two

Continuing our coverage of the best footballer of all time, here is a look at a young genius from Argentina, who looks like being the next biggest thing the world of football has ever seen. Here’s a look at why young “Leo” is part of our top-four.

Lionel Andres Messi

lionel messi newell s old boysAt just 22, this wonder kid seems to have been around forever now. A player whose performances and ability on the pitch may have changed the way we look at football, Lionel is as humble and unaffected by the whole thing as he was when he made his debut at the senior level.

It seems like an age ago but Messi, started playing for Club Atletico Newell’s Old Boys way back in 1995, as an 8-year old. Since then, till date, Messi is amongst the top-four Latin American giants of the game who are considered bigger and better than all before them, in World Football.

Club Level

For Messi, his style of play has been shaped by the clubs he has played for. Despite his sober demeanour and an outrageously flamboyant style of play, Messi has been able to go beyond what his club offers, in terms of playing style and preference, and has taken things to another level. In his Early Days for Newell's Old Boys>

In his formative years, the young Argentinean was forced to deal with Growth Hormone Deficiency. At $900 a month, neither could his factory worker father or part-time cleaner mother afford the treatment, nor could Newell’s Old Boys or even top side River Plate, who were interested in the youngster, afford to bring him on board with this added expense.

At 17 years and 114 days, Leo was the youngest player ever to play for Barcelona at a La Liga game, under Frank Rijkaard. Since then, Messi has probably looked back only to remind himself of his roots and the reason why he is playing football at the top level today.

Unstoppable when he Wants to bePlaying alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Thiago Motta, Carles Puyol> and many more, Messi has had the chance to blossom amidst huge names from the sporting world. The fact that Messi is as good as he is; is a testimony to his love for the game and nothing more.

He helped his team win 6 trophies over 2008-09, and that too in emphatic fashion. He is known for his ability to make things happen on the pitch, harassing defenders, midfielders and goalkeepers with his, true to his nickname, “flea-like” darting runs and movement off the ball.

He is truly one of the greats but playing with one of the best teams in the world, which has proved that they are almost as good without Messi, as they are with, is just something that we have to note.

International Level

This has been the falling grace for Lionel Messi as far as his illustrious career is concerned. Absolutely astounding at club level, Messi’s contribution at the international level has been quite the opposite. He has been known to perform well against weaker opponents but to maintain a rate of scoring, or even influence, as he does at the club levels is unheard of. The Smiles have not Lasted at this Level>

Is it because the national team gets together and plays just a few days in a year or because the coaches cannot get the best out of him? Diego Maradona isn’t the best guy to lead Argentina today however he is completely aware of what it takes to lead a team to victory in some of the biggest tournaments on the planet.

<img src=”” width=”86” height=”128” alt=”“I would pay to watch him play”, said the old for the new.” /»Messi was brilliant at the junior levels of the international game, scoring handsomely and regularly for the Argentine Under-20 and Under-23 side in all competitions. He helped Argentina win the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup while also winning the Gold Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. However, Argentina barely managed to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa, 2010, scrapping through at the last minute, no thanks to Messi.

A regular feature in the teams, it could be that Messi is overwhelmed by the burden of expectations on his shoulders, but that isn’t quite his style. He is only 22 though and there are at least 4 more world cups lined up for the lad if he keeps his ways.

The Final Verdict

At 22, Messi seems to have mesmerised the world of football into thinking that he is the best that can ever be. However, when Pele came along, everyone said the same about him but he still languishes in 3rd spot on this list.

Dancing with the StarsAs for Messi, he has at least 14 to 16 years to go in his career, giving him a really long window to prove that he is the best in the world. Clearly, he has proven that he is better than the likes of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, the “wanna-be best players” of today’s football generation. With a humble attitude and an unbelievable love for the game and FC Barcelona>, Messi is sure to mesmerise our souls with a brand of football that most of us can only dream of.

However, there have been many before him who have promised a lot, some from his country only, but have failed to deliver. Ariel Ortega was touted as the best in the world but the flamboyant midfielder failed to make it at the top level in Europe. Pablo Aimar was another, also humble like Messi, but he dropped off the radar far too quickly. For Messi to do something significant, there has to be something more to him than these suitors for the top spot in world football.

Messi has time on his side and if he wants to beat records, a drop in pace would still keep him above almost everyone in the race for the best player of all time. However, for Messi to be named as the best player of all time, there has to be more to him than just the slick trickery, abundant goals and mindboggling ability to dance with football boots, all combined with his modest outlook onto life.

He is the richest footballer in the world today but for all the money that he is raking in, there will not be anything worth his fight for top spot unless he does manage to lead Argentina to the World Cup Title, because frankly speaking, he has won everything else that he there is to win already. And he hasn’t had to play in the USA!!!

And he is just 22!!!

Anjali nambissan
Sports Pundit member

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