The debate will rage on about Lionel Messi’s legacy.
Five Ballon d’Or wins confirms his status as one of the game’s greatest ever players.
But zero wins in a major international tournament casts doubts as to whether we can remove “one of” from that description.
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The Barcelona star has an Olympic Gold Medal in his extensive trophy cabinet but a tournament with restrictions on the number of senior figures allowed in the squad cannot be counted as a major success.
That many aren’t willing to call Messi the best ever just based on his international record is quite a shame. Football is, after all, a team game, and Messi hasn’t always had the best supporting casts when representing the Albiceleste.
It would have been wonderful to see him win the 2014 World Cup just to fill that vacant space in his haul, but it wasn’t to be. At 28, Messi realistically has two more chances to win the coveted trophy.
He has the chance to win the Copa America this summer, a tournament which he has been a losing finalist in twice.
And former Paraguay international Roque Santa Cruz thinks Messi needs some form of international success to meet the Argentinian public’s expectations of him.
Messi is falling short of public expectation
The Barcelona man has been accused of not producing the goods on the international stage. Though Santa Cruz denies that, he does believe Messi needs a piece of silverware to confirm his status.
The striker, who hasn’t been included in Paraguay’s 23-man squad for the Copa America told Omnisport, per ESPN FC: "I think Messi found his place -- I think it is the Argentine public's pressure that still talks about a Messi that is not the same one at Barcelona.
"Having seen him at different tournaments and competitions I can say that he is always one of the best and performs at a high level. But he still must win a title with Argentina to be close to what the Argentine public thinks he can achieve."
Argentina are favourites to win Copa America
The Copa America gets underway in the United States on Saturday. Argentina are the bookmakers’ favourites to end their 23-year wait to win a major competition and Santa Cruz named them among his candidates.
"Argentina are always a candidate for what they have, Messi and a lot of other players performing at the best leagues,” he added. “Brazil are not going through a very good moment but besides that they always have great players.
"Also Colombia and Chile can be candidates as well because of the moment they are living and the players they have."
Can Lionel Messi be called the game's greatest ever player if he doesn't win the World Cup or Copa America? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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