Perhaps if we were a few generations back, Cristiano Ronaldo’s exploits on the pitch would have him go down as the undisputed player of his generation, but not so. One player has been able best all of Ronaldo’s exploits and that one player is a small little jack rabbit of an Argentine who has been a constant thorn in every defender’s side; Lionel Messi. On Sunday night, Lionel Messi put two past Real Betis to give him 23 goals in 15 La Liga games, as well as 86 goals in this calender year, breaking legendary German and Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in 1972. Now, some point out that Gerd Muller played 5 games less than Messi has this year but let’s get real here; with Messi’s current form, he’s on pace to score well over 90 goals this calender year. Messi already boasts an impressive trophy case with Barcelona, accumulating three champion league titles, 5 La Liga titles, 2 Copa Del Rey titles, and 2 FIFA club World Cups in his career thus far. On an individual level, Messi has been awarded the European Golden shoe for the top scorer in all major European Leagues twice while he has been awarded FIFA’s Ballon d’Or, awarded for being the best player in the world, three striaght times and he’s well on pace for a fourth striaght (sorry Cristiano).There is no question that Lionel Messi is the best player of our generation, but is he the best ever?
At club level, it seems Lionel Messi has achieved all that there is to achieve. There is no question that this current Barcelona side will be remembered as the greatest team of all time, and thiere well on course to add to an already impressive trophy case as Real Madrid continue to flounder in La Liga while Atletico Madrid cannot possibly rely on Falcao’s goalscoring exploits much longer. However, what do Diego Maradona, Pele, and even Gerd Muller have in common? They have each one the World Cup at least once. The greatest glare, it seems, it Messi’s near flawless career has been his inability to carry Argentina to glory on the international stage. While Messi’s performance’s with the Argentine national team have improved of late, he has ultimaetly failed to perform when the Albiceleste needed him most. During the 2010 World Cup, Messi failed to show up, not scoring a single goal and virtually going anonomoyous as Germany overran Argentina 4-0 in the quarterfinals. In last year’s Copa America, Messi again failed to score a goal in the competition and was manhandled by Walter Gargano in midfield as Uruguay knocked out Argentina in the competiton in a penalty shootout. Until Messi can step up and lead the Albiceleste to glory on the international stage, he cannot even be mentioned in the same breath as Pele or Maradona. There is no question, however, that Messi has the talent to do so, and, at age 25, time is at his side. With Argentina looking solid in qualification and with the World Cup in less than two years time, don’t rule out Messi leading the Albiceleste to glory in Brazil. To answer the question in the title, Messi isn’t the best player ever yet, but it’s only a matter of time until he is.