is_Messi_the_greatest

Messi has done great at Barcelona. But that is about it.

If there is one guy on the whole of this planet that will continue to consider Messi as the greatest player of all time even if it turns out Messi had been taking performance-enhancing drugs all his career, it would be Garry Lineker.

So let’s keep his opinions on the side.

He is biased.

And probably in love with Messi to the extent that in his eyes Messi can do no wrong.

Any neutral perspective would definitely have Messi asĀ  a great player.

In our opinion, Messi probably deserves a place in the top 10 list of the best attacking players the world has ever seen.

But to call him the greatest player of all time without a close second is downright criminal.

Now, the interesting bit about the above video is that none of them (apart from Rio, who is also a big Messi fan) included Messi in their top 3 players of all time list.

In fact, even Rio cleverly said ‘in no order’ when mentioning his own list of the 3 greatest players of all time.

We will not discuss how almost every greatest player of all time discussion is biased against,

  • defenders
  • goal-keepers
  • Playmakers
  • wingers
  • Defensive midfield players

Essentially, anyone who does not get past several players and scores a goal automatically gets disqualified from the discussion.

And that is sad.

The only exception to this rule is perhaps Zidane.

He did go past players in his prime.

But he never scored a ton of goals.

As mentioned just now, we won’t discuss such issues with most GOAT debates here.

What we want to talk about here is why Messi is still not the greatest player of all time.

Here are the reasons.

Messi has not left Barcelona

This is where we feel Messi has more or less given up the claim to being the greatest of all time title.

We mentioned here, here and here (years ago) that Messi needed to leave Barcelona in order to prove that he could consistently perform in other leagues.

Yes.

Anyone can perform on one given night against an English, Italian or German team.

But it takes another level of commitment and skill to perform against teams that you have not played against since you were 8, week in and week out.

What is stopping Messi from doing so?

Fear.

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STOCKHOLM 20190810
Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo, right, controls the ball in front of Atletico Madrid’s Kieran Trippier in their International Champions Cup match on August 10, 2019 at Friends Arena in Stockholm.
Foto: Erik Simander / TT / kod 11720

That is the only logical explanation.

He literally has nothing left to do in Barcelona.

In fact, this has been the case for the past 4 or 5 years.

Messi and his goals mean very little in the context of him becoming the greatest player of all time.

Yes, that would certainly add to his resume.

But when talking about the greatest player of all time, there will always be a question mark on whether he could have emulated what he did at Barcelona, in another league.

Sadly, Messi is getting older and no one seems to be getting the point across.

Messi needs to leave Barcelona.

We’re not trying to suggest that Messi should do the impossible and go to a side like Napoli to win things.

That act is reserved for players as great as Maradonna.

Messi can claim that he was gone past more defenders than Barcelona and has won more Champions League titles than Maradonna.

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But in reality, they count for much less for the obvious reasons.

On the other hand, Ronaldo seems to understand that if he wants to cement his place in the history of football as the greatest player of all time then he will have to prove himself wherever he hasn’t done so already.

And unlike Messi, Ronaldo does not have a lot to prove.

Ronaldo has won Champions League titles on two different continents while Messi hasn’t.

Messi has been playing for Barcelona, the strongest attacking side in the world (and statistically one of the top 3 defensive sides in the world as well) for all his life.

How many players have this advantage?

Zidane didn’t have that.

Neither did Ronaldo.

The list could on and on.

For all of Messi’s brilliant ball control instances and dribbling skills, the fact is, he has done all of his work for Barcelona.

Messi has probably never played a professional game in his life where Barcelona was the underdog.

We could go further, Messi has actually rarely played a professional football game where the other side had equal firepower to Barcelona.

Compare that with Pele, Maradonna, C.Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Zidane, and Ronaldinho to realize why their contributions are equally as impressive if not more impressive than Messi.

Again, Messi is a great player.

No doubt about it.

He is one of the greatest players of all times.

But when people start talking about Messi being the greatest player of all time, they need to take into consideration such factors which separate the best from the best.

Messi doesn’t perform well away from Camp Nou.

Another problem with Messi’s accomplishments is that most of them are as a result of playing at home.

If you take a look at some of the greatest goals Messi has scored in his career, the vast majority of them are at Camp Nou.

Needless to say, performing at your home ground in front of your own crowd is a lot easier than performing away from home where the crowd is not going to support you and you don’t know how the turf plays.

Comparing Messi to Ronaldo and others, it is easy to see that almost all other great players have scored tremendous goals away from home.

A goal is not simply a goal.

Not when we are trying to compare players in our greatest of all time debate.

Hence, a goal scored at home against a lowly side in a match that does not count for much is not the same as a goal scored away from home, in top competition, in an important match at an important point.

These distinctions have to be made in order to separate the best from the best.

Yes.

Messi has done unbelievably well in his career in terms of consistently scoring 50 plus goals.

So has Ronaldo.

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The former soccer player, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele, addresses the official opening of the World Economic Forum for Latin America at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, south of Sao Paulo, on Wednesday. Photo: NILTON FUKUDA/ESTADAO CONTEUDO

It is also true that the old Ronaldo, Zidane, Figo, Maradonna, and others did not score so many goals.

And they did not have the consistency of Messi.

But they also did not have the advantages that Messi has had in his career.

None of the legends considered in the GOAT debate played for the strongest side on earth for all of their careers.

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The likes of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Zidane, and C.Ronaldo, performed away from home time after time again in order to prove that they really deserved the title of GOAT.

We don’t mean to say that Messi hasn’t performed away from home at all.

He has.

But, the likes of Ronaldo, Cristiano, Zidane, and Ronaldinho have done it more and at bigger stages.

Messi has not won anything internationally

Throughout his peak, Messi had access to the top 4 strikers in the world when playing for his country.

Messi had access to strikers such as,

  • Aguero
  • Higuain
  • Di Maria (not a striker but nevertheless a tremendous support player)
  • Tevez
  • Dybala (just recently)
  • Crespo
  • Lavezzi
  • Milito

Yet, he could not make an impact for Argentina in terms of trophies.

Yes, Messi did manage to get to the finals of a decent number of tournaments.

But in football, second place is considered the first loser.

You are either the winner or the loser.

Messi, for all his international career, has been on the losing side.

Compare that to the likes of Ronaldo, Cristiano, Pele, Maradonna, Zidane and Figo and it is easy to see why a lot of people still do not consider Messi to be the greatest player of all time.

Messi needs a system.

Unlike Ronaldo, Messi’s skills require a very specific set of conditions and environment.

If he does not have that environment then he can’t perform.

This is probably why Messi for Barcelona is way different from Messi for Argentina.

Cristiano Ronaldo has constantly set records after records with the international side even though the Portugal national team does not have a single world-class attacking player.

Yes, Portugal did have Nani and Quaresma for a while but both of them were simply too inconsistent to be considered world-class.

The only other Portugal player in Ronaldo’s international career that one can consider as world-class was Pepe.

And even he wasn’t consistent enough to be considered a top defender.

Truly great players do not need systems to perform.

Of course, they perform better in systems that are suited to their needs.

But they can also perform when systems are not suited to their strong points.

Ronaldo, Cristiano, Zidane, and others consistently showed that they could fit in any given system and could perform.

Messi has not done that.

In fact, to make space for Messi Barcelona had to get rid of many great players such as Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Deco, and Henry.

This also brings us to the point that Messi needs people like Xavi and Iniesta along with Yahya Toure (more recently Busquets, even though now he has lost his form) to play behind him.

Messi also needs fast wingbacks like Daniel Alves and Jordi Alba (along with Zambrotta and Abidal before) to give him support on the wings.

Again, Messi and his army of Twitter followers cannot defend such holes in his GOAT resume for the simple reason that Messi hasn’t performed anywhere but Barcelona.

Did Ronaldo, Cristiano, and Zidane have these advantages?

One could say yes.

But since they performed in a multiple number of teams for a multiple number of years in a multiple number of leagues, one can make a case that they could have done so even without world-class players supporting their game.

 

Messi is a one-league player

Yes, a lot of statistics indicate that he WOULD do well in other leagues.

But the reality of the situation is that Messi hasn’t done anything outside La Liga because he has never played outside La Liga for even a season.

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The likes of Zidane, Ronaldo, Cristiano, and Figo along with many others tried to challenge themselves and played in different leagues to see how they could adapt to different styles and systems.

Messi seems like he is uninterested in addressing all the problems in his resume that many of his contemporaries do not have.

Again, no one is questioning Messi’s status as one of the greatest players of all time.

But he certainly has to do a ton more to be considered the greatest player of all time.

All the YouTube videos in the world from Messi fans are not going to be enough to address the issue of Messi not playing in any other league other than La Liga.

And even in that league, as mentioned before, Messi has only played for Barcelona which is by far the strongest side in La Liga.

Compare that to Cristiano.

When Ronaldo came to Manchester United, Manchester United was not the strongest team in the league.

It was one of the strongest.

But far from the strongest.

The same was the case when Ronaldo came to Real Madrid.

Real Madrid was weaker than a lot of teams in Europe including Barcelona.

This issue actually connects to the previously-mentioned issue of Messi not playing for any other team than Barcelona.

If he likes La Liga so much but still wants to address the issues with his GOAT claim then he has to move to another club in La Liga.

As indicated earlier, the best move for Messi would be to leave La Liga entirely and play in the English Premier League or Serie A in order to show that he can be successful without Barcelona.

Messi has still not scored a single goal like Bale.

The video above demonstrates the point we are trying to make.

Bale has scored a hat trick in a match that required him to score a hattrick.

All three of his goals are superb goals and against the reigning Champions League holders.

The match is also away from home, for Bale as he was playing for Tottenham at the time.

For all the thousands upon thousands of goals that Messi has scored, not a single goal fulfills the criteria that we have mentioned above.

Bale has scored many such goals.

Messi, on the other hand, automatically disqualifies himself from scoring such a goal because he is playing for the strongest side in the world.

Messi has consistently failed at the biggest tournament of all

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Great players perform great whether or not they play for a great side. Something for Messi to think about.

The World Cup.

One seriously cannot lay claim to being the greatest player of all time if one cannot even win a single World Cup.

The likes of Pele and Ronaldo have won multiple World Cup titles (yes, Ronaldo did not play a single game in 1994 but he was still in the squad).

If Messi wants everyone to consider him as the greatest player of all time, he needs at least one World Cup title to enter the debate seriously.

He can continue to win more Champions League with Barcelona (and La Liga title as well) for his own well being.

There is nothing wrong with that.

But if he wants to improve his credentials for the GOAT debate then Champions League and La Liga crowns are worth very little to his legacy at this point.

Conclusion

There you have it.

Now you know the other side of the story if you had been living in the Messi and Barcelona bubble for the past 10 years.

Whether you agree with our analysis or not, it is always healthy to know the other side of the story as well.

Please use the comments section below to let us know your thoughts and share this with your friends so they too can start debating whether or not Messi deserves to be mentioned along with the likes of Cristiano, Ronaldo, Zidane, Maradonna and many others.

We are all ears now.