Would Messi magic make Premier League grade?

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There are few things left to say about Lionel Messi. The superlatives that have been thrown his way in recent weeks, months and years, explains only half the story of the three-time Ballon d'Or winner. There is still plenty more chapters to come.

At Barcelona, the Argentine ace continues to pull up trees, as he breaks club, domestic and European records galore, after turning in scintillating performance after scintillating performance at the Camp Nou.

Only last week, Messi became the first player to score five goals in a single Champions League game - a 7-1 win which ensured Barca's progression via a 10-2 aggregate victory in their last 16 clash against Bayer Leverkusen.

Two more goals in Sunday's 2-0 La Liga win over Racing Santander upped the pint-sized magician's tally to 50 goals in 43 games this season, leaving his career total at 230 goals in all competitions - five short of Barcelona's club record - set by Cesar Rodriguez in 1955.

It's almost bizarre then that people might consider whether or not Messi has the credentials to succeed in the Premier League - his small stature the most commonly questioned feature that leaves some wondering whether he could cope with the physicality of the English game.

Messi turns heads on the biggest European stage, but how would he perform on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke? The answer, surely, is with consummate ease. And that's no offence to the Potters - the likes of Wigan and Bolton (of old) have also been earmarked as the types of fixtures where footballing principles go out the window, with the onus on rolling your sleeves up, and winning ugly.

Quite why anybody thinks the South American starlet would struggle against average defenders, when Messi destroys the best and most handsome on a regular basis is quite frankly, laughable - did nobody see last season's Champions League final against Manchester United?

The physicality argument falls down on the basis of the overwhelming successes of Luka Modric at Tottenham and David Silva at Manchester City, while Sergio Aguero, who played for years in Spain with Atletico Madrid before joining Silva at the Etihad Stadium, made a sensational start to life in Roberto Mancini's side.

All three players have been exceptional additions to the English top-flight, and Messi is a combination of all of them. He would have an even more devastating impact if unleashed in the Premier League.

"It's all about enjoying the moment," was the 24-year-old's reaction to last Wednesday's five-goal haul. "From how it went with Argentina the other week to how it's going right now for my club.

"The sweetest part of it, for me, is that the team continues its run of form at the moment, winning games in style; that's the way to go."

Manchester United favourite Eric Cantona - another player credited with being one of the greatest to have graced the Premier League - believes the Argentine's talent is unrivalled: "Messi is exceptional. He retains an almost childlike enthusiasm for the game and you can see that when he is playing in front of thousands of people there are moments when he feels like a great star. The great players are those who retain the ingenuity of the child."

Barcelona teammate Cesc Fabregas, who came through the club's famous La Masia youth academy alongside Messi, before enjoying eight years in England with Arsenal prior to his return to the Catalonia last summer, is in no doubt about football's most famous little man.

"He is the best player in history – we have never seen anyone like him."

The traditionally English view that prioritises brawn over brain and brilliance is an old-fashioned depiction that has never worked, and never will. Those who believe that Messi hasn't the ability to succeed in the Premier League, are equally guilty of being stuck in the dark ages.

Football in this country needs a complete cultural shift. Jonny foreigner still doesn't like it up 'em? Do me a favour! Messi may not be the ultimate Messiah, yet - but he is still a gift from the footballing Gods, worthy of gracing any pitch the world over.

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