Ever since his stellar debut on the big stage at the age of 17 and at the marvelous display he put on at the 2006 World Cup vs. Serbia and Montenegro, predictions, claims and disputes were thrown around.
It is a very big burden for one man to carry, but the diminutive Argentinian has handled all the pressure incredibly well, responding with stellar performance after stellar performance, shattering records in the process.
Even though his career is far from done, the ever-present question is always lingering somewhere in the air above the Camp Nou stadium – can Messi be the greatest of all time and why not? The answer to that question is more complex than you’ve thought and it might not even fit in this article.
The competitive age
Messi plays in an ideal age for any player to test his abilities in the ultimate stages. The last 10 years have been equivocally proclaimed as the best era in football history. Players are in the best shape ever and there is more talent around, due to the advanced tactical and scouting technologies.
So far, he has nothing left to prove because honestly – there is only one man that can even find himself in the same echelon as Messi, and that man is Cristiano Ronaldo. Their narrative and an incredibly entertaining rivalry is the benchmark of an amazing age for football as a game.
Simply put, in terms of competition, Messi has the ultimate argument for the title of the best football player ever – the players he faces and the defenses he cuts to shreds are elite, just like he is.
People often pit Ronaldo, Kaka, Drogba and others against Messi, in terms of sheer talent and the mesmerizing style of play they possess. Sure, there are arguments that Ronaldinho was at a level that nobody will ever reach again and that even Messi wasn’t that good.
But, all these players lack a constant level of performance. Ronaldo was stellar too, but his prime was cut short by terrible injuries. The same goes for Ronaldinho’s steep decline after two incredible years.
You may argue that some of these legendary strikers were more talented than Messi, but his longevity and the fact that he is annihilating all records constantly for THIRTEEN straight years blow that out of the water. Again, not even Maradona could keep up his level of play for long.
The dust hasn’t settled yet
Honestly, his reign of terror is incredibly, but he is even discredited a lot, simply because people try to place him on the all-time list as if his career is over. He has been so good for so long, it’s hard to fathom that he is still only 29 years old.
Although it’s evident that his level and style of play are unique, in the end, only him and Ronaldo will be left standing in the debate for the best ever, as it is fitting. Now, it’s time to stop the debates and appreciate the Argentinian magician, as he casts spells on opposing defenses, effortlessly humiliating goalkeepers around the world.