How could anyone do a team without this man up front in today’s modern game? In fact when we started the whole voting process, he was a given, it was finding the second striker that was going to be hard.
Lionel Andres Messi, or just Messi to you and I, is probably the greatest footballer to have graced the planet. Aged just 25 he is one of four players to hold consecutive World Player of the Year awards and Balon d’Ors; in fairness it’s actually a scary proposition to think how many more he could get by the time he retires.
Raised at La Masia academy just opposite the Nou Camp, many saw his prodigious talent early. In fact, his first ever contract was done on a paper napkin and a promise to move to Spain. It would however, take time to convince others of how good he could become. Frank De Boer famously said “he looks alright, but I don’t get what all the fuss is about” to Frank Rijkaard after watching a youth match. Rijkaard would tell his famous compatriot “just wait, he’s something special”.
There will be those that argue that his brilliance is only accentuated by the squad he has around him. Others will comment on his lack of ability to produce the same quality for Argentina. Many would say that his 90 (and counting) career goals in one calendar year was only achievable in Spain. Whilst there may be an element of truth to some of these statements, there is no denying he is one of the very few that his appearance in a game can radically change results.
Messi may be criticised in his home country, but across the rest of the world we can see how great the diminutive Argentinian has been not only for Barcelona, but to football itself. Welcome to the #TalkingXI.
Here’s some of the voters and experts telling us why:
“Messi – you’d have to become the best football in the world too, if your Mum still cut your hair.” – Tim Stannard, La Liga Loca Blog, @LaLigaLoca
“Only Messi needs to be considered.” – Peter Leslie, @pleslie999