All hail the little maestro
Messi is a legend in the making, writes Timothy Molobi
There are a few similarities between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
They both captain their nations – Argentina and Portugal respectively.
Also, they have each won the Fifa Player of the Year award and they both play in the Spanish La Liga.
While the debate rages on as to who is the best footballer in the world between the two, one thing for sure is that this year belonged to the little maestro from Argentina.
Messi is a man of few words on the pitch – even when rough-tackled, he hardly complains. Instead, when he gets the ball, all he does is attack and attack. That’s Messi.
The lad once described by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger as a “PlayStation” could be from another planet as he makes football look easy.
If Ronaldo is classified as great, Messi has been far greater and the Argentinian captain has the statistics to back him up.
Ronaldo may currently be the world’s most expensive footballer following his £80 million (R1.1 billion) purchase from English Premiership club Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, but Messi would easily triple that amount if he were to leave FC Barcelona.
This week Messi extended his contract by two years, meaning he would stay at Camp Nou until 2018.
He has been a legend in the making since he debuted as a teenager for Barça in 2004.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder has had an extraordinary year, netting his 89th and 90th goals of 2012 two weeks ago. Last weekend, he scored his 91st goal in a match against Valladolid.
He had already surpassed German legend Gerd Müller’s 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year when he struck a brace in Barça’s 2-1 win at Real Betis.
But he had already made his mark on the international stage as he hogged the headlines with his sublime performances.
Ronaldo and Real Madrid may have pipped Messi and Barça to the La Liga title last season, but Messi has been outstanding throughout the 2012/13 season and is on his way to win his fourth Fifa Ballon d’Or in a row.
He is up against his FC Barcelona team-mates in Andrés Iniesta and Ronaldo.
The only missing medal in Messi’s cabinet is the Fifa Soccer World Cup.
When and if this happens, he will be declared the world’s greatest and the debate on whether Pelé of Brazil or Diego Maradona of Argentina were the best players will be closed.
And with age still on his side, Messi has three or so world cups to surpass Pelé and Maradona.
The stage is all his.