In a team packed full of superstars, there is one that rises above. The pick of the bunch, the crème de la crème; the best player in the world. Barcelona have their nonpareil centre-forward: Lionel Messi. His influence is unrivalled; La Pulga is undoubtedly the foremost player in a generation stacked with talent.
The Argentine maestro plays football as if it is a work of art; each swing of his boot like the delicate caress of an artist’s brush on the canvas. Each pass chipping away at the opposition as if they are made of marble, and he is Michelangelo. Every goal is a building block; lifting the diminutive forward closer to the heavens. Even at the tender age of 25, Lionel Messi is already seen as a footballing God – and with good reason too.
His reputation is beyond compare, even at a club that has seen countless world-class players don the famous Blaugrana jersey. FC Barcelona has been home to the original Ronaldo, in what some consider the finest season of his career. Fellow Brazilians Rivaldo and Ronaldinho graced the Camp Nou in their prime, dazzling crowds with their skill and imagination.
Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol, even Josep Guardiola himself; all pale in comparison to the great Lionel Messi. The records he has set are likely to be insurmountable; his trophy haul (both individually and as part of a collective) will put any player to shame and with this, his fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or, Messi has surely secured his place in the pantheon of all-time greats.
Seldom have we seen a footballer with such finesse in the final third and never before have we seen a player this clinical, or a striker who is this creative; he truly is one-of-a-kind. Just when you think he has reached his peak, Messi continues to improve – and he does so at an alarming rate, smashing records as he goes.
Who knows? Maybe this award can be taken as an indication that Lionel Messi is already the greatest player to ever grace the game – certainly this writer thinks so – but in truth, does it really matter? You might prefer Pele, Maradona, or even Cristiano Ronaldo – it makes no difference, for we all know that whenever Messi takes the field, there is only one winner and that’s football.