Manuel Veth –
For many, Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer to ever play the game. The Argentina star is capable of doing things that most players wouldn’t dream of and he could be set for another huge calendar year. Barcelona are seven points clear at the top of La Liga, are on the verge of securing another Champions League quarter-finals berth, and a Copa Del Rey final against Valencia awaits.
Now 31 years old, Messi continues to roll back the years – the Barcelona legend has notched 26 goals and 12 assists in 25 La Liga games this campaign. His impact and influence have been key to Barcelona’s domestic success in years gone by but even more so in 2018/19. Now 1/50 in La Liga betting odds for the Spanish title, Ernesto Valverde’s men look destined to win the crown for the fourth time in five years.
Messi has been the constant in an era of change for Barcelona. Managers have come and gone but Messi has stayed at Camp Nou and he will almost certainly stay at the club for the rest of his career. A sixth Ballon d’Or triumph will give him the edge over Cristiano Ronaldo in that personal battle but most football fans already admit that Messi is the superior talent. He really is an absolute joy to watch.
Even when he has a quiet game, you can never write him off. His ability to produce a moment of magic in the blink of an eye is scintillating and fans from all over the world will be backing Messi to reclaim the Ballon d’Or award. Luka Modric was the deserved winner for 2018but the Argentinian looks set to topple the Real Madrid midfielder in 2019; perhaps only Kylian Mbappe stands in Messi’s way.
With Paris Saint-Germain falling short in Europe, the path is set for Messi to lead Barcelona to Champions League glory. Winning the continent’s elite club tournament may well be enough to secure the Ballon d’Or award for Messi – barring a long-term setback at the start of next season. Messi continues to defy the odds time and time again; have we ever seen a player dictate a football match like he can?
There are always going to be fans who prefer Ronaldo; football is all about opinions. However, in terms of raw talent, there is no question that the magisterial Messi is in a world of his own. Hard work has helped Ronaldo work his way to the top – all of those hours on the training pitch and in the gym have paid off. Meanwhile, Messi does everything so naturally, cruising through matches in second gear at times.
Lionel Messi will go down in history as one of the greatest ever – but is he the greatest? It is difficult to compare different eras but Messi’s impact, achievements and longevity stand him in good stead to be recognised as the best player of all-time. At 31 years old, time is against him but he is showing next to no signs of slowing down just yet. Messi is still the pinnacle of world football.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.