Argentina woes should not hinder reputation of Lionel Messi

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After Argentina's penalty shootout defeat to Chile in the Copa América final, Lionel Messi has borne the brunt of criticism aimed at them.

Of course, the Barcelona forward is used to this by now. Messi's failure to replicate his club form in an Argentina shirt has long been blamed for his lack of international honours. In the eyes of many, he will never be comparable with Pelé and Diego Maradona until he helps his national team win a major trophy.

I am too young to have witnessed the glorious international careers of Pelé and Maradona, but I do not believe that a lack of honours for Argentina defines Messi as a player.


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If footballers are judged on team honours; then former Manchester United reserve goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak is a Premier League great, while Steven Gerrard is a nobody.

Furthermore, players cannot freely choose their national teams. All they can do is contribute as much as possible and hope that the players around them are good enough for their efforts to lead to success.

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While Messi's contribution of 46 goals in 103 appearances for Argentina may not be spectacular, it is far from poor. Although he has only scored one international goal this year, he has netted 27 in 35 games since 2012.

Few believe that he deserved his FIFA World Cup player of the tournament award last year, but his four-goal haul was nonetheless impressive.


His poor international strike rate this year may in part be due to last year's appointment of Gerardo Martino as Argentina manager.

Messi also did not score as many club goals as usual (41 in 46 appearances) when Martino managed Barcelona. Him and Ángel di Maria reportedly questioned Martino's half-time team talk in their Copa América opener against Paraguay.

Nevertheless, Martino lauded Messi's selfless performance in Argentina's 6-1 semi-final victory over the same opponent - which the 28-year-old bagged three assists in.


This is just another sign that there is much more to Messi's game than just goals. At last year's World Cup, he created more chances than any other player and his tally of dribbles completed - 46 - came close to the 50 amassed by Maradona in 1986.

Messi has been a phenomenon for Barcelona, breaking the all-time La Liga goalscoring record and winning seven La Liga titles and four European Cups.

However, while his four Ballon d'Or successes have come mostly as a result of his club successes; his international career has been anything but a failure.

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Lionel Messi
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