Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi
Image from:

Lionel Andres Messi Cuccitini

Current Club: Barcelona.

Previous Clubs: Newell's Old Boys.

Loan Clubs: N/A.

International: Argentina 138 caps 70 goals.

Trophies Won: FIFA Men's Player of the Year 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019. UEFA Player of the Year 2011, 2015. Ballon d'Or 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019. Champions League 2005/06, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2014/15. Spanish La Liga 2004/05, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18, 2018/19. Spanish Cup 2008/09, 2011/12, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18. Spanish Super Cup 2005/06, 2006/07, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2016/17, 2018/19. FIFA Club World Cup 2009, 2011, 2015. Under-20 World Cup 2005. UEFA Supercup 2009/10, 2011/12, 2015/16. Olympics 2008/09. Spanish League Cup 2014/15.

We all know Lionel Messi, by reputation at least, arguably the best player of his generation, depending on which side of the Ronaldo/Messi divide you stand on. Some claim he is the best player of all time, but he struggles on poor pitches and has never had to take the kind of assaults that the greats like Best, Pele and Maradona had to endure every time they got the ball. So for me he will always be unproven in comparison and impossible to compare with those.

Putting that aside, on the ball Messi can be a magician, delightful to watch and can dribble through packed defences like there are huge gaps in the wall that only he can see. His touch and dribbling skills are sublime. Added to that, his setpiece delivery tends to be superb, other than penalties, with his free kicks around the edge of the box very effective.

A deadly goalscorer with a strike rate that almost no one can compare to, but he says he is happier creating goals for others. On the ball Messi's vision and range of passing are exceptional and he can be a playmaker, though it does seem a waste of his ability to finish to play him in a deeper role.

However there are weaknesses to his game, as Eric Abidal pointed out recently, his workrate in recent years has dropped noticeably. From a player who would create, score and press opposition players, now he creates and scores but strolls around watching when his team are not on the ball.

Obviously it is about Messi saving his legs for when he gets on the ball and can do his magic, but that does mean he has lost a huge part of his game. Messi's pressing, in the days when he was alongside Xavi and Iniesta, was superb and it is no coincidence, at least in my opinion, that Barcelona have not really threatened to win the Champions League since Messi stopped harrying opponents.

With him getting older, it is understandable that Messi will look to save his legs, but it does mean that he is no longer the great player he was and, in those rare games Barca are not dominating, he is actually a hindrance to the team. You could see in those games that put them out in the Champions League, that his mentality is not there, the drive is not the same as it once was.

When things go against Messi and the team, and the referee is not allowing him to run the game as he likes to do, Messi's response is just to stand around throwing his hands in the air and, when he does get the ball, Messi just tries to run with the ball. The Liverpool game at Anfield was a prime example, he would draw the entire defence to him, leaving team-mates open for a pass in a dangerous area, but Messi thought he had to do it all. It would just lead to him losing the ball, throwing his hands up complaining to the ref about a non-existent foul and then his head going down.

Messi's size is a big part of his game, he has such a low centre of gravity that he is able to twist and turn in such tight circles and slalom through defenders in a way very few others can, or ever have been able to. It does mean he is not the best in the air, but he is better than you may think. He has a decent leap, which allows him to reach balls you would expect him to miss, and Messi has very good accuracy and timing on his leaps and headers.

However the big key to his game is acceleration. The twists and turns become a real problem because he can get away from opponents before they even have time to adjust to the fact Messi has taken the ball out of their path. That is why, despite the drop in workrate and the recent tendency to sulk and argue rather than raise his game when things are going wrong, he is still arguably the best player in the world.

On his day, he is simply unstoppable and can do things no other current player can do. The problem is that now he is reliant on the other 10 around him to get him the ball and make sure his good work is not wasted. At his peak, Messi was able to lift those other 10 and helped them to get the ball back.

Requested by - markp08