Barcelona's Lionel Messi Greatest Of All Time? Not Even Greatest Of This Century.
A famous Brazilian writer used to say "All unanimity is stupid." And it seems Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi has become one of those. Whenever he fails his team, it is forgotten. If his game shows flaws, critics leave it aside. Almost everyone seems to be sure he is the best in the world even after a 2011/12 season where the only trophy he won was the Copa Del Rey. A year in which silverwear counted less than scoring goals against Spanish sides that would never get Premiership football.
Of course he is a great player. And his choice is not a shameful pick like Fabio Cannavaro in 2006. But putting Messi on the greatest ever spot because of his four Golden Ball awards is for those who believe blindly in polls that listen to people like the head coach of Thailand (that fellow picked Sergio Busquets as the number one in world football). The Argentinian hasn't even settled his challenge with Cristiano Ronaldo, yet less entered the bigger one.
If there had been more reason, Messi would have two Golden Ball awards at the age of 25, and not a record four. That would have put things under a different perspective. In 2010, Wesley Sneijder took Holland to the World Cup final and was the maestro for Inter Milan's Champions League title. Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta became world champions for Spain. The Argentinian crashed out of the European Cup with Barcelona in the semi finals and saw his side be trashed by Germany 4-0 in football's finest tournament. Yet he won.
It was a similar tale this year. Messi couldn't score a single goal in the two most important matches of the season for Barcelona (the UCL semifinals against Chelsea, including a penalty kick miss). He saw Ronaldo take Madrid to the Spanish title with a nine-point-difference. Nine. His best football came about only after April. The voting for the award was over by early November, when he was peaking. Ronaldo and Iniesta had done well all along the season.
Messi won again. It was most probably for his dazzling technique than to his year. But if it were for what he had achieved in 2011-2012 he shouldn't even be among the top three. Had that been considered there wouldn't be any "best ever" nonsense now.
As if it weren't enough putting Messi on a spot he didn't deserve for his 2012 season, there is more comparison between him and a man who won three World Cups and scored more than 1,000 goals (many of them against teams that would make it to La Liga just as well as Tenerife or Gijon). Others think of him as the most brilliant Argentinian player ever, as if he had made an average team lift the holy grail practically by himself and then did the same to a mafia team in Italy.
Since the Bosman ruling the Champions League does every season what the World Cup used to only every four years: it gathers the best. Yet it doesn't substitute the maximum glory. Even so Messi seems to be the only one who has the right to claim the best ever brand without ever being even close to winning the most prestigious event in football.
His European trophies and his beautiful goals shouldn't give him any different treatment from those who entered the pantheon of the greatest ever. For Christ's sake, this boy hasn't even been to a World Cup final. Perhaps the eurofocused think he deserves it just for what he has done for Barcelona. I couldn't think more differently from them.
For now Messi is a great player for his club, at a place he grew up. Others stars have moved elsewhere, started from scratch and thrived again. The only move he makes is to play for Argentina and he is no more than a good national side player. He has better players to work with comparing to Maradona in 1986 -- Kun Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and others. So why disregard his failure?
It would be comprehensible to put Cristiano Ronaldo on the top list despite never being close to winning a World Cup. Portugal is a small nation with few great footballers. Yet, he took his team to the semifinals in 2006. Messi plays for the two-time world champions and the best he had in football's creme de la creme were quarter-final exits.
Does that sound like the best player ever to you? Not to me