Lionel Messi: Barcelona star's contribution to goal shows you can't just judge him on stats

Is Lionel Messi the most complete forward the sport of football has ever seen?

Well, if you base your answer to that question purely on statistics, then the response can't be anything else but 'yes'.

In 929 appearances for Barcelona and Argentina, Messi has scored 748 goals and assisted his teammates on 315 occasions.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner currently averages a goal every 102 minutes and a goal contribution every 72 minutes, which is a level of consistency that many thought to be impossible.

But what makes Messi so special is the fact that he offers so much more to the team than just goals and assists.

Often during games, the 34-year-old will decide to operate as the team's deep-lying playmaker, kickstarting attacks with his intelligent passing and shrewd movement.

When he's in this position, it's hard for Messi to directly contribute to goals.

Instead, the Argentine is the man providing the pass before the assist, which is something that you won't see when analysing his almost superhuman statistics.

A video that's been doing the rounds on Twitter in recent days perfectly illustrates what we're talking about.

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The footage shows how Messi was the architect behind Barcelona's final goal in their iconic 4-0 victory over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu without scoring or assisting.

'Messi’s contribution in this goal is what the stats won’t tell you'

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Messi cleverly dragged a number of Real Madrid players out of position, while also playing quick, incisive passes to create more space.

The Argentine then played the ball that split Los Blancos' defensive lines, allowing a teammate to tee up Luis Suarez - who finished the chance emphatically.

Without Messi, the goal simply does not happen, but you wouldn't know that if you were looking at just the numbers.

That's why many believe the Argentine is greatest the sport has ever seen, a player who does everything you could want from a midfielder, winger and striker to a world-class standard.

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Danny Ryan

Interested in: Arsenal, Barcelona, Boxing

Danny Ryan is a Senior Writer and Boxing Lead at GiveMeSport. He's had the pleasure of interviewing the likes of Tyson Fury, Gary Lineker, Amir Khan, Lennox Lewis, Joe Root, David Haye, Frank Warren, Kell Brook & Joseph Parker. He once got Eoin Morgan to commentate on THAT Super Over and is an above average FIFA player.