Lionel Messi: The greatest? | Sports Questioner

Lionel Messi Argentina Fifa World Cup

Argentina’s captain and number 10 striker Lionel Messi (right) holds the FIFA World Cup trophy after the trophy ceremony after Argentina beat Qatar in the 2022 World Cup final between Argentina and France at Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha on December 18, 2022 (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT/AFP)

For his fans, the debate over Lionel Messi’s right to be considered the greatest footballer in history is officially over.

The absence of medals by the World Cup champions has long been an A in the debate about why Messi doesn’t rank above Pele and Diego Maradona in the pantheon of football.

But with Argentina’s victory over France in the World Cup final on Sunday in Doha, the case against the 35-year-old conductor is certainly closed.

In an illustrious career spanning three decades, Messi has won 37 club titles, seven Ballon d’Or awards and six European Golden Boots.

There’s been a Copa America title, an Olympic gold medal and a scoring list and statistical records that can never be beaten.

The only gap left on Messi’s résumé – a World Cup win – was comprehensively filled on Sunday night during a mesmerizing 120 minutes at Lusail Stadium.

In his final World Cup appearance – a record 26th in its value – Messi scored twice to help Argentina draw 3-3 in extra time before winning on penalties.

Even Kylian Mbappe’s miraculous hat-trick for Les Bleus couldn’t upset Messi’s appointment with fate on a seemingly pre-arranged night.

Former England and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: “It’s been an honor to follow Lionel Messi for almost 2 decades. Moment after moment of enthralling, breathtakingly fun football. He is a gift from the football gods.”

“Lionel Messi. The best ever,” was England midfielder Declan Rice’s immediate comment after Sunday’s win. “We will never see a player like Messi again. “

Of course, whether Messi is really the ‘greatest ever’ is a question, it’s also futile as the answer is subjective, a living room game that leaves the viewer wondering. alluring.

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What is undeniable, however, is that with the sheer volume and quantity of silverware, Messi has won more than other heavyweights in terms of his “GOAT” status: Pele and Maradona.

While Pele’s three World Cups are still championships, the Brazilian icon’s club career pales in comparison to Messi’s.

During his prime years with Barcelona, ​​the Argentinian regularly conquered the pinnacle of European club football, winning four Champions League titles – an arena that was widely regarded as the dominant player in football. technical aspects compared to international football.

Meanwhile, Maradona has won only one World Cup and has never lifted a European Cup during his entire European club career spent mainly with Barcelona and Napoli.

The counter-argument, of course, is that Pele and Maradona played in an era when players were far less protected than the likes of Messi and arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pele limped away from the 1966 World Cup final after making too many rough tackles; Maradona also suffered rough treatment throughout his career.

Maradona’s former teammate, Jorge Burruchaga, did not want to compare players across generations.

Burruchaga, who scored the winning goal – scored by Maradona – in the 1986 World Cup final against West Germany, said simply that Messi was the greatest player of his time.

“Win or lose, Messi is no more or less than Maradona,” Burruchaga told AFP ahead of Sunday’s final. “Messi will go down in history no matter what.”

“There are five players in the last 70 years who can be considered the best in the world – Di Stefano, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Maradona and Messi.

“Messi is on that list, whether he won the World Cup or not. But I hope he does.”

On Sunday, the hopes of Burruchaga and millions of fellow Argentines came true.


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