That Lionel Messi is the best player of this generation is not exactly breaking news. It's something that has been unanimously accepted by the entire football community for some years. Few doubt that, by the time he ends his career, he will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, football player of all-time.
This year, however, his game has reached new heights, which reflects on his stats. In modern football, it's very rare for a player to score 40 goals in a single season. Messi has reached that mark... in the beginning of February this season. After scoring 38 goals in 2008/2009 and 47 in 2009/2010, Leo Messi will once again reach new goalscoring heights.
But that's not all. Not only is Messi scoring more than any other player, he's also assisting more than all his peers. He has already racked up 18 assists this season. In only 33 matches, Messi has created a disbelieving 58 goals (40 scored, 18 assisted) and is on the verge of completing the most brilliant individual season in modern football history. He's on pace to score 60 and assist 30 this season. This becomes all the more impressive if we consider that Messi is only 23 and hasn't even reached his prime years yet!
Messi's role as a false 9 has been one of the keys to Barcelona's success this season. No one has yet found a way to counter this, Messi has proven to be unmarkable in this role and has been creating almost two goals per match.
The Argentine genius is the definition of a complete player: he combines scoring skills superior to Cristiano Ronaldo's, vision and passing skills that only his teammate Xavi Hernandez can match with the unmatched dribbling skills and versatility that only he can call his own. He can play in every attack and midfield position, with equal effectiveness. And he also helps out in defense, as shown in this weekend's La Liga fixture against Atlético Madrid. Messi is truly a once-in-a-generation player, in the mould of Pelé or Diego Maradona.
Even his teammates Xavi and Iniesta, second and third in the 2010 Ballon d'Or, admit that Messi is just on another level. There's Messi and then there's the rest. At only 23, Messi has won everything he could possibly win at the club level while collecting several individual accolades, but he's still as motivated as ever and he has a decade in front of him to keep leading Barceona to new heights of footballing excellence, while cementing his status as one of the greatest players ever to grace the football pitch.