Being the best player in football, like any other sport comes with its up and downs, and one of the most glaring disadvantages of dominating a sport, is that pundits and fans alike tend to hold you to different standards than everyone, and judge your performances based on your peak performances.
This has been the story of Barcelona’s mercurial forward, Lionel Messi, who has had to undergo some massive criticisms, with some people even going as far as to suggest that this is his worst season for Barcelona so far, and that he should be sold.
There is some truth to these allegations, as Messi has seemed a little disinterested at times in working for the team as was the case against Atletico where the distance he covered was probably one of the lowest figures I have ever seen for any professional footballer. Many have been quick to point out that with the World Cup in the horizon, Messi is saving himself for the showcase tournament in which he still has a point to prove.
Notwithstanding, claiming that this is Messi’s worst season is just a testament of how great the little man is, and how accustomed we are to getting spoiled by the diminutive magician week in and week out. Barcelona may have had a subpar season under the tutelage of Tata Martino, but Messi has been as very productive. In just 28 (26 as a starter) games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored 28 goals and assisted 10, claiming 14 man of the match awards in the process, the highest figure (tied with Luiz Suarez from 33 games) of any player in the top 5 leagues in Europe. The irony of the situation is that despite claims of his downfall, whoscored.com currently rates Messi as the best player so far this season in domestic leagues, ahead of Liverpool’s main talisman Luiz Suarez, who has absolutely been on fire this year, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who has also continued his imperious goal scoring form from last season.
For a man who is having the “worst season” of his career, Messi has been more prolific than any player in the world in the year 2014. He currently not only leads the scoring stats for the calendar year 2014, but he is also the player with the most assists in this year. Putting all the stats aside, Messi should not have to justify his form to anyone. His dip in form is still a form that besides Cristiano Ronaldo, any other player in the world would have to be playing at their magisterial best to match, and that speaks volumes about the superlative talents of the Argentine. Even for a man of his talent, maintaining the form that saw him score a world record 91 goals would be almost as impossible and as impressive as scoring those 91 goals themselves, and as fans of the beautiful game, we should appreciate just having the chance to watch Lionel Messi weave magic on a weekly basis, because the world may never again see a player of this caliber, who breaks records as an afterthought.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil less than a month away presents a perfect opportunity for the Messiah, as some call him, to cement his legacy as one of the finest, if not the finest footballer to ever play the game. However, regardless of how the World Cup turns out for the Argentine, he is already at the top echelon of world football with perhaps just Maradona and Pele for company. Besides the World Cup trophy potentially filling that empty spot on his trophy laden cabinet, it will serve to outright distance him as the greatest of all greats, and perhaps then maybe critics who think this is his worst season yet may then be silenced.
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