Lionel Messi can often look effortless on a football pitch.
For all the gut-busting energy and kinetic bursts that come with Messi‘s finest individual goals, you still get the feeling that he exudes a sense of complete calm and tranquility for the most part.
Bar those wild bursts of pure genius, Messi almost hovers around the pitch in slow-motion, picking out passes and affecting the play as though he can picture each and every player with his eyes closed.
The nonchalance of Messi
It’s that same enigmatic nonchalance that fellow legends such as Zinedine Zidane and Andrea Pirlo made their own, projecting that even the most technical and difficult feats didn’t cost them a gram of energy.
However, in an ever-changing game where pressing and ‘heavy-metal football’ is moving to the forefront, it’s become less vogue to have a creative player swaggering effortlessly between the lines.
Even the omnipotent Messi has had the accusatory finger pointed at him from time to time with viral clips showing him simply walking around when he could be tracking back or tackling.
In fact, there is a particular narrative around the Paris Saint-Germain star when it comes to his proclivity for strolling around the pitch, particularly when he does so in the first few minutes of a game.
But the lazy accusations that Messi is being lazy are exactly that: lazy.
It should come as no surprise when we’re talking about one of the greatest sportspeople of all time that there’s a jolly good reason behind everything he does on a football pitch – and that includes said walking.
Twitter thread on Messi’s walking
And of all the discourse and debate to have been bounded around on the topic, few can compete with a fascinating Twitter thread by user @TrungTPhan that was written around the time of Messi’s PSG move.
It’s no surprise that it amassed more than 2,000 retweets and 10,000 ‘likes’ because it gave a brilliantly comprehensive overview of why Messi walking isn’t the bad thing it’s so often billed to be.
However, don’t just take our word for it, because you can delve into the genius behind Messi’s mid-game strolls by checking out the full Twitter thread down below:
Been watching Messi vids since he signed a 2yr deal to play with Paris St. Germain (up to $75m/year).— Trung Phan (@TrungTPhan) August 19, 2021
Messi is known for walking leisurely on the pitch. Many think it's to conserve energy. There's a more strategic reason and it's the epitome of "work smart, not hard."
13/Here is a FiveThirtyEight video showing Messi (bottom right) passively creating a scoring opportunity for his Barcelona: pic.twitter.com/g0Ty9vVO7Y— Trung Phan (@TrungTPhan) August 19, 2021
The method behind the m̶a̶d̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ magnificence.
While it’s easy to see why Messi’s Sunday strolls might be written off as laziness, it’s great to see the energy-saving and footballing IQ benefits that come from the Barcelona‘s legend relaxed demeanour.
Guardiola on Messi’s walking
But even if you’re a cynic who thinks the Twitter thread is reading into things that simply aren’t there, the points being raised are backed up by a pretty respectable source in football: Pep Guardiola.
Per Marca, Guardiola once commentated on footage of Messi for an Amazon documentary by saying: “He’s not running, but he’s always watching what’s happening.
“He smells where are the weak points in the back four. After five, ten minutes, he has the map in his eyes, in his brain to know exactly where is the space and what is the panorama.
“It’s like being in the jungle and I have to survive. And he knows if I move here, here, I will have more space to attack.”
I guess football really is a walk in the park for Messi…