Evolution of Lionel Messi's heatmap shows how well he's adapted throughout career

Messi's career heat map makes for interesting reading

Like all great players, Lionel Messi has evolved his game over the years. 

That’s why he’s been able to stay on top for as long as he has. 

We all remember the floppy-haired teenager making his La Liga debut against Espanyol back in 2004, replacing Deco with eight minutes to go. 

The rest, as they say, is history. We all know what Messi has gone on to do, winning countless trophies with Barca while establishing himself as perhaps the greatest individual player of all time. 

But exactly how has his game and more specifically, his positioning, changed during this incredible career?

Well, let’s take a look at his heatmap. 

Twitter user ‘fcbShawn’ has shared a video that’s compiled data from every season between 2005 and 2019 that shows where Messi has been most active on the pitch. 

It makes for fascinating viewing. Check out the short video below:

Very interesting. 

As we can see, Messi spent the first years of his Barcelona career – between 2005 and 2010 – almost exclusively on the right wing. 

But by the turn of the decade, he begins to move inside to a more central role, occupying a position on the right side of the box. 

Messi transitioned to a central role in 2010

It’s here he stays for the next five years when he shifts back out to the wing.

Interestingly, in 2015 and 2016, Messi seems to be splitting his time both on the wing and in the centre, with both areas of the pitch red hot. 

Come 2017 though, the Argentine returns to his central position, slightly closer to the edge of the box, where he’s since stayed. 

Messi has moved forward in recent years

Fans who have seen the video have started raising interesting points about how we view Messi. 

One wrote: “[It’s] funny how he spent like 75% of his career centrally, yet most people call him a RW”. 

“Gives a whole new dimension to Messi as an intergalactic phenomenon,” another added.

Messi has spent most of his career in the centre

A third person, however, decided to have a little dig at the Argentine maestro by saying: ‘Look at all that tracking back!’ 

But let’s be honest, that doesn’t really matter. If anyone is exempt from defensive duties, it’s Messi.

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