Lionel Messi: Twitter thread imagines football legends being treated like Barcelona star

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Lionel Messi isn't exactly immune to criticism.

You don't become one of the greatest sportspeople in history without amassing thousands of haters and Messi's place in the GOAT debate has been the cause for plenty of heated arguments.

You daren't ask people who they think the greatest player of all time is without the comments section being filled with passionate arguments either backing Messi or one of his mercurial rivals.

Messi's place in history

Besides, whether you regard the Barcelona superstar as football's number one or not, you can hardly deny that the six-time Ballon d'Or is firmly in the conversation.

We are talking about someone on course to finish their career as the highest goalscorer in the history of the beautiful game, after all, not to mention his astonishing collection of trophies.

But that hasn't stopped the 33-year-old from being treated harshly for certain aspects of his career, namely only having played for Barcelona and having failed to win the World Cup.

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Criticisms of Messi

One of the biggest arguments lodged in favour of Cristiano Ronaldo is that the Portuguese has proven himself across bountiful spells in England, Spain and Italy.

Messi, on the other hand, is viewed by many with great suspicion for having only cut his teeth in La Liga and some fans even speculate that he would flop in competitions like the Premier League.

That's not to mention the fact Messi is yet to win a major honour with Argentina, suffering a heartbreaking string of final defeats in the World Cup and Copa America between 2014 and 2016.

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Fascinating new Twitter thread

But to what extent are those two weighty points valid criticisms of Messi? Well, a fascinating new Twitter thread by football writer Paul Murphy has provided a brilliant angle on the status quo.

Murphy has attracted thousands of 'likes' and hundreds of retweets by way of mocking the criticisms against Messi by speculating how fans would view other legends if they were treated similarly.

In other words, how would we look at various football legends if we judged them in the same way as Messi? If you're intrigued by that concept, which I suspect you are, check out the thread here:

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Should we rethink how we view Messi?

While it might be deliberately exaggerated in places, I'm inclined to think the Twitter thread does a fantastic job of highlighting certain areas where Messi is treated a little harsher than others.

Naturally, Messi is being held to a higher standard than, say, David Beckham or Kenny Dalglish, but it's interesting to see how easily you can flip perceptions of Diego Maradona or Zinedine Zidane.

It's also amusing to see modern Twitter language used against stars like Pele who played decades and decades ago with accusations of playing 'pub teams' ringing so true in a 2020 context. 

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Besides, I think we can all agree that the various legends being branded frauds is absolute nonsense - deliberately so, of course - and similar accusations are Messi are equally bogus.

It doesn't mean that you should suddenly change your GOAT answer to Messi, don't get me wrong, but it's simply fascinating to see the way he's discussed on social media put under the spotlight.

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