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Lionel Messi


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Best of the planet right now and since he's so young and seems pretty sensible and level headed he could go on to be the greatest of all time. Like people have said he needs to dominate a world cup the way Maradona did, but he's the palyer above any other i'd want to see play for my team.

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Read this in yesterday's Sunday Times. Canny article.

 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/col...icle7094342.ece

 

How Lionel Messi plays is a heartwarming reminder of why football is the most popular team sport humans have yet devised. It would be a strange spirit that wasn’t lifted by the sight of him in action, the spectacle of a repertoire of wonders delivered in the biggest arenas of the game with the joyful exuberance of a boy having fun among his friends in the schoolyard.

 

Often when the cameras focus on the face framed by his unkempt hair as he completes the latest surge of productive virtuosity, he looks younger than the 22 we know he is and he seems suffused with a happy sense of awe at what his supernatural affinity with the ball has enabled him to do. His features don’t clench in the expression of I-told-you-so triumphalism affected by many players as they veer at sprinter’s speed away from the scoring of a goal, frequently stripping to the waist so the shirt can be waved like a banner. Messi’s main reaction to the damage he does is to smile, and we smile with him.

 

Supporters of opposing clubs who suffer from the inspired feats of destruction he perpetrates with outrageous consistency on behalf of Barcelona, as Arsenal loyalists did last Tuesday night when he struck all of the four goals that crushed their Champions League hopes in Catalonia, find themselves feeling it is almost a privilege to fall to such a talent. There is a natural willingness to acclaim him as a living refutation of so many of the depressing values, ranging from the merely tiresome to the downright corrosive, that are prevalent in modern football. Most strikingly, he assiduously eschews the pursuit of celebrity that so absorbs droves of his fellow professionals.

 

Unadorned by visible tattoos or earrings or fancy clothes, content to drive an unspectacular car provided by his employers, he is excruciatingly shy and uncomfortable with expressing himself when outside the milieu in which he is the unrivalled genius of his era. In the words of the Spain-based writer John Carlin, Messi “concentrates every atom of his being on the pitch; off it he is a shadow”. Of course, that degree of dedication is largely a matter of personality rather than a declaration of moral superiority over less single-minded practitioners of his trade. Certainly it is as silly and unfair to object to the fondness among today’s players for accumulating extrovert symbols of their success as it is to rail judgmentally against the wages they are paid. Emancipation was too long delayed in an entertainment industry that for generations treated the creators of its wealth as little better than serfs and if the financial pendulum has swung excessively, preservation of the dire iniquities of the past would have been infinitely more regrettable. As for footballers’ materialistic flourishing of their wealth, flashily splashing the cash is perhaps to be expected from young men who, contrary to the omens of their background, have hit the mother lode.

 

And yet there is something reassuring and endearing about Messi’s spontaneous resistance to the Hello! lifestyle, his instinctive opting for the outstanding sportsman’s traditional role of folk hero and not the cheaper identity of celebrity. Even now David Beckham, with a fraction of his ability, has far more global fame but the Argentinian’s renown will, if posterity has any taste for justice, reverberate into the future as an echo of undeniable greatness. It is clearly premature to instal him in the upper reaches of football’s pantheon — the place reserved, to my way of thinking, for Pele, Diego Maradona, Alfredo Di Stefano and Johan Cruyff, with Ferenc Puskas, George Best, Garrincha, Zinedine Zidane, Franz Beckenbauer, John Charles, Stanley Matthews and (an unashamed personal prejudice) Tom Finney perhaps jostling in a throng for a foothold — but what Messi has already done in his fledgling career makes assessing him alongside the supreme exponents of attacking skills in the history of football an entirely legitimate exercise.

 

Perhaps the obsessive commitment that has nurtured prodigious intrinsic gifts into the all but irresistible armoury he takes on to the field these days owes a lot to the physical disadvantages endured throughout his early years in Rosario, an unprepossessing industrial city 200 miles north-west of Buenos Aires. He was tiny as a child and it was the need for hormone treatment to encourage growth (and the readiness of Barcelona, unlike clubs in his homeland, to undertake the expense of medical care involving daily injections over three years) that ensured his arrival at Camp Nou in 2001 as a 13-year-old. Such experiences presumably fostered an awareness that he and everybody close to him had the kind of investment in his potential that must not be betrayed by inadequate effort.

 

Barcelona realised almost instantly they had a priceless asset and, as Messi progressed from a competitive debut at 17 along a rising graph of impact through succeeding seasons, the evidence for regarding him as the best player in the world became overwhelming some time before those countering with a case for the brilliance of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo conceded his superiority. The majority of neutrals’ preference for Messi is obviously further nourished by the pleasure derived from seeing a little man who doesn’t look much like an athlete, a rather hunch-shouldered figure who would never be noticeable in a crowd, wreaking havoc on strapping defenders.

 

At barely 5ft 7ins and nearer 10.5 than 11st, he reminds us that another beauty of football is its granting of sporting magnificence to seemingly ordinary Joes. Recognition of the current Barcelona team as Europe’s best drives home that truth, since the two players who would be considered their most distinguished after Messi, the midfield masters Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, are also unimpressive in their physical appearance, if never in the inexhaustible energy of their movement. All three men, and the club style they incarnate so thrillingly, represent a healthy rebuttal of the torrents of foolish talk about how increased athleticism and pace have so transformed football that the skills associated with the greatest players of distant decades cannot be invoked for purposes of comparison.

 

The essential qualities that justify Barca’s status as short-odds favourites to defend their Champions League title, and claim the trophy for the third time in five years, have been benchmarks since Di Stefano was leading Real Madrid to victory in the first five stagings of the continental championship between 1956 and 1960 (scoring in every final). And my memories of the splendours of that run are enough in themselves to oblige me to scorn glib suggestions that Spain’s present standard-bearers are the best club team the game has produced. A more recent objection comes from recalling how Chelsea reduced Barcelona to impotence in a 2009 Champions League semi-final, only to be thwarted by dreadful refereeing, and from back in history there must be summoned the Milan that bridged the late 1980s and early 1990s (with Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard, Baresi and Maldini) and the Santos of Pele’s precocious prime.

 

There is much less cause for dismissing the argument that Messi is seriously threatening to join the ultimate elite of Pele, Maradona, Di Stefano and Cruyff but he has some way to go. His talents are, however, sufficiently dazzling to carry him there if he is blessed with prolonged freedom from injury. As a dribbler at speed he ranks with anybody I’ve seen, even Pele and Maradona, manipulating the ball with mesmerising adroitness and contriving brutally abrupt changes of direction at the peak of electric bursts of penetration. His identifying of killer positions is eerily prescient and, though he heavily favours his left foot, his finishing with either boot is deadly, whether subtlety or violence is required. He scored 38 goals for Barcelona last season and will surely pass the 40 mark in this campaign.

 

His courage is bottomless and his size does not prevent him from riding the fiercest challenges with remarkable demonstrations of strength and a resilience born of his extraordinary balance. Accusations of selfishness are fading before proof he is applying Pele’s golden rule of playing the simple ball when that is what’s advisable and performing miracles only when they are needed. Effortless control enables him to keep his head up and his alertness to everything around him results in passes that can split defences as cruelly as his dribbling. He is, in short, an unmitigated marvel and we’re lucky to be watching him.

 

But those glorious ghosts have yet to be overtaken. Pele, with a volume of accomplishments too expansive to be detailed, remains my idea of the greatest footballer I ever saw. A whisker behind is Maradona, who made by far the biggest individual contribution to the securing of a World Cup triumph anybody ever witnessed with Argentina in the Mexico finals of 1986 and subsequently raised Napoli to trophy-winning heights the club never approached before or afterwards. Di Stefano guaranteed himself the sport’s version of immortality with Real Madrid and, though Cruyff collected fewer prizes than the unforgettable richness of his technique and his cerebral deploying of it merited, he will always be a giant to me.

 

It is intriguing to speculate how much Maradona’s volatile, sometimes baffling management of Argentina will affect Lionel Messi’s chances of arriving alongside him in the pantheon during this World Cup summer. But if there is disappointment in South Africa it is more likely to be the old king’s fault than that of the heir to the throne.

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When Ronaldo went down looking for a free kick that wasn't awarded, he did his usual showmanship, on his knees with his hands pointing up to the sky. All this while Barca were playing the ball out of the half(away from cr9).

 

Compare that to when Messi was kicked at about 5 minutes later. He gets straight up, no whinging, looks for the quick pass and then plays a superb 1-2 with Xavi(incredible player) before scoring.

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further nourished by the pleasure derived from seeing a little man who doesn’t look much like an athlete, a rather hunch-shouldered figure who would never be noticeable in a crowd, wreaking havoc on strapping defenders.

 

At barely 5ft 7ins

 

Almost Beardsley!

 

:lol:

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best dribbler i've seen. not as powerful as the proper ronaldo (who after 25 was not at the same level as his late teens), but blessed with better technique. maybe not as quick either, but better balanced...

 

him Xavi and Iniesta are wonderful talents, that form the basis of the best football team i have seen in years.

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I know it's a bit of a cliche but one of the best things about the Barca side is that they are a 'team' who play for each other and the system rather than a bunch of individuals like the 'Galacticos'.

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I know it's a bit of a cliche but one of the best things about the Barca side is that they are a 'team' who play for each other and the system rather than a bunch of individuals like the 'Galacticos'.

 

pass, move, offer, spinwank.

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I totally agree and it's been one of the reasons I've enjoyed the way we've played this season. There seems to be much more genuine celebration from the team when we've scored and the feeling that if we concede first the heads won't go down.

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Guest Barrack Road
I think Messi is a brilliant footballer no doubt about it. All I will say about it though is that the three best players since Maradona are playing now, him, fat Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo

Better than the likes of Zidane, Baggio & Van Basten? Not a chance man.

Why not? He's a better dribbler than all of them. C Ronaldo can rewrite history the same as Messi has.

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Guest Barrack Road
I think Messi is a brilliant footballer no doubt about it. All I will say about it though is that the three best players since Maradona are playing now, him, fat Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo

 

I'd probably chuck Zidane in there too :lol:

Aye definitely. I think the one thing you can say about Messi ahead of all of them apart from Pele, is that he's better at his young age than the rest were. He needs to do it for Argentina now though.

I wouldn't say he's better than Ronaldo was at the same age.

Mmmm maybe not. Certainly in terms of his international career I'd agree.

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Guest Barrack Road
I think Messi is a brilliant footballer no doubt about it. All I will say about it though is that the three best players since Maradona are playing now, him, fat Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo

Better than the likes of Zidane, Baggio & Van Basten? Not a chance man.

Why not? He's a better dribbler than all of them. C Ronaldo can rewrite history the same as Messi has. It's amazing how fickle people are, not so long ago many said C RONALDO could be the greatest ever.

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You'll need to look at Messi at the end of his career.....if he collects the medals that someone like Zidane did then he'll deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. Talent is one thing, how you use it and how fortunate you are in terms of your team mates (ie how good they are) is another and goes a long way to how the history books perceive you. I didnt think I'd see a better player than Gazza but then I saw Bergkamp and Zidane....Zidane will be remembered as one of the best 10 players ever to put a pair of boots on, but was Bergkamp less talented?....or just a cloggie fancy dan who didnt like flying and who's temamates weren't as collectively good as Thuram,Dessailly and Deschamps?

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Stevie I'm on my phone now but my opinion on Cristiano has always been the same and I've certainly never been in agreement with anyone who thinks he could be the greatest football player of all time.

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Ok , im old enough to have seen Pele ...1970 world cup ... seriously folks no one else has even come close ..not even Maradonna ( bless his little coked out nose ) ..Lionel is fantastic .. needs another ten years and a few world cups till we can really estimate his brilliance.

Edited by TheGreatNUFCSwindle
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  • 8 months later...

Messi would pretty much have to get his country to two world cup finals to be as good as Maradona tbh. Domestic football's one thing but it's a very rareified air at the very very very top of the game.

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Argie '90 were fucking atrocious

 

Aye and they didn't win either. Taking into consideration the manager, that last Argentina team was awful; most of the fans were just happy they didn't end up completely embarrassing themselves. Messi has time to win a world cup, and his current club form is unparalleled in a modern game where the standard is a lot higher than in El Diego's day. Don't get me wrong I'm mad on Maradona, but watching Barca of late, Messi has made another step up in terms of ability.

Edited by Kevin S. Assilleekunt
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