Barcelona fans always knew it, and now there’s no denying it, Leo Messi is the best player La Liga has even known, and there have been some greats.
His fellow Argentina countryman Alfredo di Stefano dazzled at Real Madrid during the fifties, as did the legendary Puskas. More recently, Messi’s Barca team-mate Andres Iniesta was widely viewed as the best midfield man of all time…but Messi eclipse them all.
Before the recent break in football due to the coronavirus outbreak, he had climbed to the top of the La Liga scoring charts yet again, with 19 goals, five ahead of Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, factor in his 12 assists and the Argentine genius is the perfect Number Ten.
Lionel Andres Messi has been the big La Liga 2020 news ever since he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona when he was 13, and 19 years later, at the age of 32, he’s still writing the headlines.
Messi vs Ronaldo
Over the last decade fans around the world have argued who is the better player, Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Even here at SBOTOP we have differences of opinion, though I’m sure my colleague James favours CR7 mainly because he’s an avid Manchester United fan!
It’s a difficult argument to settle. Messi holds all the La Liga records but Ronaldo’s career has spanned three great clubs, Manchester United, Real Madrid and now Juventus. They are both goal machines and fitness-wise in their prime, but while Ronny is a physical specimen at 6ft 2in and with perma-tan and dazzling teeth, Leo is rather understated to the eye.
He is cool personified, sometimes bearded, sometimes not, but always with an aura of the invincible…his style is never forced but it is stunning nonetheless.
Ronaldo has carried his nation Portugal, to success, more so that Messi as captain of Argentina, and he has a talent for the spectacular, long-range screamers, powerful headers and, in his younger days, electrifying pace with the tightest of control.
In contrast, Messi, at just 5ft 7in has a low centre of gravity which allows him to change direction effortlessly and with such guile and speed that he can evade tackles at will, often picking the ball up in deep-lying positions before beating four or more opponents in tight spaces and sliding the ball home. Only Eden Hazard in his best season at Chelsea came close to Messi’s ability to beat players on the ground at such pace.
The Spanish press soon nicknamed him ‘The Atomic Flea’ as, despite his short stature, his strength helps him to ride tackles more easily, and has been less prone to dive or roll around on the floor than other attacking players.
He can pick a pass as well as anyone, and has unerring accuracy, scoring with both feet from distance or at the end of a mazy dribble.
Barca have enjoyed a glorious run during Messi’s career, including winning the treble in 2009 which culminated in a Champions League victory over Manchester United in Rome, where Messi was on the score sheet after he had dominated the game.
Even in the Blaugrana’s recent defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico, Los Blancos’ defence, and certainly their fans, were on edge whenever Messi collected the ball, and could only breathe easy when substitute Mariano poked home a late second for Real.
The Stats that make Messi a La Liga Standout
You don’t even need to analyse Messi’s style of play to marvel, just take a look at his achievements at the Camp Nou.
He has won a record six Ballon d’Ors, and six European Golden Shoes. In the 15 years since his debut at Barca he has helped his team to 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles and four Champions League medals.
As a goal-scorer he has the record number of goals in La Liga at 438, plundering a record 50 in the 2011-2012 season, a feat unlikely ever to be beaten. He has scored 36 hat-tricks in La Liga and eight in the Champions League, both records, and has bagged over 700 career goals for club and country.
And for sure, Messi’s Barca trophy haul is likely to become 35 sooner rather than later. The latest La Liga 2020 news pitch the Blaugrana as strong favourites to see off Real Madrid to make it a third league title on the bounce.
Messi…La Liga’s best ever.
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