If you ask anyone about the best football players in the current era, one name would be quite common among them. It would be none other than Lionel Messi, and no prizes for guessing that. Well, there is also a heated debate going on, currently, as to who is the best among the current generation? Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. Well, the jury is not yet out on this, and it is better to stay away from such conundrum as both are good in their own ways and the game would become poorer in the absence of any of these players. Hence, leave the topic for the time being as the matter won’t be resolved any time soon. Now, coming back to the Argentine legend, there is a slight murmur from some quarters that Messi has been exceptional for his club Barcelona FC, but while donning the white and blue jersey the returns have been strictly average. Is it a fair assessment on a player who recently became the most capped player for his national team? Time to analyse the same.
Without a shred of doubt, Messi has been a stabilizing force for FC Barcelona, as he has been instrumental in many of his club’s triumphs. Since his introduction in 2006, Messi has played an integral part in winning four Champions League titles, 10 La Liga titles, the Club World Cup titles and seven in Spain’s Copa del Rey. As for his national team, despite some sporadic displays of his gamesmanship, big titles have, generally, eluded Argentina since he started playing for them. Messi did help Argentina to a gold medal in Beijing 2008, but Olympic men’s soccer is never perceived as a senior national team competition. When it comes to the big occasions, Messi has taken part in four World Cups and five earlier Copa Americas, including the special 2016 Centenario event in the United States, where Argentina got beaten by Chile, for the second successive year, in a penalty shootout. These have prompted many to question Messi’s loyalty towards his national team.
Coming to his club exploits, several people have linked his achievements with Barcelona to the presence of Neymar and Luis Suarez (both have left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid respectively now). In the same breath, they also add that he does not enjoy such a privilege for his national team and for this reason the Argentine has failed to recreate the club magic on international podiums. However, the same people also slammed the MSN quartet when Barca lost to Real in 2016, which ended the Catalan club’s unbeaten run of 39 games. This again proves that criticism will remain as long as teams end up on the losing side and nothing succeeds like success. Hence, it is criminal to cast aspersions upon the Argentine star on the basis of victories and defeats.
After the heartbreak of 2016 against Chile, Messi even announced retirement. But he was asked to come out of it as he is still the best bet for Argentina. Messi has, so far, netted 75 goals for Argentina, which happens to be ninth among men in the game’s history. He has also been bestowed with the Ballon d’Or on six occasions. Only a handful has achieved as much as Messi, so, it is important not to emphasise too much on the Argentine’s inability to win international championships for the team. Messi is as precious to his national team as he is to the Catalan club and he is still the big-match player who can bring both Copa America and World Cup to Argentina. And there are no two ways about the same.