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Messi: The best is yet to come

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Tim Vickery | 20:22 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

Seven years ago, at the start of 2005, I was covering the South American Under-20 Championships in Colombia's coffee-growing region when I came across something that gave me a far bigger buzz than the local produce.

It was a short, shambling 17-year-old with the air of the pigeon-toed runt of the litter. His name was Lionel Messi.

Messi had already been at Barcelona for nearly four years and had played one friendly for the senior side but he was an unknown in Argentina. Yet from the first time that he picked up the ball, it was obvious that he would not remain unknown for very long.

Messi Ballon d'or

Lionel Messi has now won the Ballon d'Or three times and is still only 24 year old. Photo: Getty

The greatest pleasure in what I do is getting a sneak preview of tomorrow's talents - and in the years I have been doing it, "discovering" Lionel Messi has given me more pleasure than anything else.

First, there is that extraordinary talent. Diego Maradona said of Messi that his control of the ball is so good that he can dribble while watching TV. I would add that he could also change channels, while changing direction at a pace and an angle that leaves defenders feeling dizzy.

There is also his simple and unassuming joy at his own talent, plus the fact that he understands that the game is collective. During the Fifa awards ceremony at which he won a third Ballon d'Or, Barcelona team-mate Xavi commented that Messi is a player who does almost everything in two touches. There is no showboating, no elaborate attempts to humiliate his opponent or play to the crowd.

There is also his body shape, emphasising the universality of football - all shapes and sizes can find a place in the global game. In a cynical age, there is so much that is refreshing about Messi.

Seven years on from my first sighting of him, I am delighted he has won a third successive Ballon d'Or - and just as delighted that he does not seem to regard winning the prize as a special highlight.

He is sufficiently grounded and understands the game well enough to know that, in a team sport, such awards are a consequence rather than an objective.

Three consecutive World Player of the Year awards clearly marks Messi out as the best of his time. But the best of all time? That is much more complicated, a subjective and ultimately frustrating debate.

The greats of the past would have loved to receive the same protection from referees that today's top players take for granted. Judged by contemporary criteria, the punishment handed out to Pele or Maradona would not just be worthy of a red card, it would bring a jail sentence.

Then there is also the issue of the World Cup - the greatest stage for Pele and Maradona. In Messi's defence, it seems clear that club football - and especially the Champions League - has superseded the World Cup as football's main event.

Barcelona are clearly superior to Spain, for example. But, while Messi does not bring his club form into a World Cup, there will always be a question mark against him. Not so much about his ability, more about his temperament.

At Barcelona, he is the brightest cog in a wheel that spins with mechanical precision. With Argentina, the wheel is always threatening to come off its axle. Can Messi flower in less fertile soil? Can he show the leadership to haul his compatriots in the right direction?

As the little man himself would say, he has only just started. He should have at least two World Cups ahead of him to silence the doubters. Plus a decade more in the Champions League.

The first seven years have been the aperitif. I can hardly wait for the main course.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    In terms of ability, I think Messi is better than Pele and Maradona. The game is far more evolved now, even with greater protection from the refs, he has to deal with defenders that are much better drilled and tactically aware. It does help however that he is playing with Xavi and Iniesta.

    Also congratulations to Neymar who won the best goal of the year. Even as a Man Utd fan, Rooney's goal didnt come close in my opinion. Has this boy got what it takes to be better than Messi? I haven't seen enough of him to say, but you need some ability to score the goal he did.

  • Comment number 2.

    My favourite memory of Messi was last season after he scored a hat-trick in the Camp Nou.
    When the full time whistle blew he ran up to the ref to grab the ball. After that he just calmly walked off the pitch smiling while bouncing the ball.
    Everyone was running up to him to hug him, or pat his head, but all he concentrated on was bouncing the ball, like a kid walking home after a kickabout in the street.
    That for me just summed up his love for playing the game.

  • Comment number 3.

    re : post 1 : How can you say Messi's ability is greater than Maradona or Pele? Clearly you have never seen them play. He is a special player but the point Phil made is valid - how would his "superior ability" have coped with the leg breaking tackles endured by the two aforementioned greats? It is unfair and impossible to compare them. The hyperbole doled out these days when it comes to modern footballers is too much and you would do well to comment on what you have personal knowledge of. Messi is a top, top player but i shall reserve judgement on his place in history until his career is over and i can judge him properly. In the meantime, I intend to sit back and enjoy watching what is yet to come.

  • Comment number 4.

    I just feel so privileged to live at this time and to be able to watch such a talented footballer play and dlvelop. I was too young to truly appreciate Pele and Maradona but I think its generally accepted that although its almost impossible to definitively say who is the greatest, I feel that Messi has truly earned his place in the debate. Its easy to forget how young this boy is and its also easy to believe that the best is yet to come from this remarkable player.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am lucky to have seen the three play at their peak and the criteria to compare them has yet to be determined. It is a great thing that we have a third player to be added to the debate and as an Argie, I feel great that 2/3 of the trio is a blanquiceleste. let's itemize some points of criteria... although this is just to get you guys going... ha!

    1. Protection from the refs: Pele played during brutal times and with far less standardized refereeing criteria. Yellow and red cards did not exist, automatic ejections for listed offenses did not either, and games were not televised, where you could break someone's leg and the news would be known a week later. Maradona had little protection but things had improved somewhat into the 80's. Messi is routinely given rough treatment but nowhere close to the first two. It is also much harder to play rough With messi because of his speed and control. Pele and Maradona were somewhat more static and had to shield the ball more with their bodies... Messi can leave defenders who want to go at him facing the stands in a hurry... Pele 1, Maradona 2, Messi 3

    2. Technical awareness and physical skills of defenders: Messi and Maradona have played against much tougher defenders than Pele, who either played the local Brazilian championships for years or the 4 WC's where he admittedly was head and shoulders above all competition. But day in and day out, Maradona played an intense European club schedule against especially top notch Italian defenders and defensive systems and generally prevailed. However, my choice goes to Messi, who plays every game in La Liga making pretty good defenders look ordinary, but espcially has shined in Champions League against everybody in Europe, be it an Italian, English or German club, every single year he has played and with 4 to 6 years to come, bar injury.

    3. Quality of their teams and/or teammates: Maradona wins this one by a country mile... either by taking tiny Argentinos Jrs. to the finals of Argentina's league, winning with Boca the 81 league, making Napoli a force almost singlehandedly and especially, leading as captain, top goalscorer and playmaker of a bunch of journeymen, the 1986 WC Argentine team to the trophy. We all know who Pele and Messi played or plays with, and it is not their fault... it just talks about the magnitude of Maradona's willpower and ability.

    4. Speed: Messi, Messi, Messi. Control at speeds that are mindnumbing.

    6. Finishing: Very close, although my vote goes to Messi because he rarely scores an ugly goal, and he knows where the ball is headed 99% of the time. Maradona 2nd, Pele 3rd.

    7. Kicking ability: Pele wins... two footed, deadly from midrange, great passing skills. Maradona second (watch his free kicks on youtube), also long range passing was superb. Messi should do better with free kicks (he is improving though... scary) and has a limited range in long passes although La Masia took that out of him...

    8. Heading ability: Pele of course, Messi a surprising second... Maradona right behind.

    10. Discipline/conduct on the pitch: Messi by a galaxy... Never complains, never dives, never protests... Maradona was a bit of a diver and Pele had a dangerous elbow waiting to explode

    Temperament: No number assigned... yet the biggest weapon: Maradona never shrugged, Pele seldom did... We are waiting for Messi to flourish, but notice the different childhood backgrounds and how things have changed in the world of hyperprofessionalism.

  • Comment number 6.

    #3 - You are right, of course. Comparison, as Tim says, will ultimately be frustrating. What I can say though, as someone who has watched Maradonna and Messi live and watched recordings of full games in which Pele played, is that watching Messi gives me more pleasure than watching any other player I've seen.

    To be honest, the blog sums up the reasons why: his obvious joy in the game, his lack of ego and assumption, his simplicity and, when necessary, his genius. And especially his ability to make pretty much anything on the pitch seem absurdly easy.

  • Comment number 7.

    Can't believe van Persie didn't make the shortlist

  • Comment number 8.

    Re. Champions League as footballs' main event. Sure Barcelona is better than Spain, but Barcelona is better than any other team in the world by a fairly wide margin. I don't think Real Madrid or Manchester United, for example, are better than Brazil, Germany, Italy or Spain. The World Cup is such a different animal than a yearly club competition that I don't think comparisons are valid. I've been a bit disappointed with the last few World Cups...I've been thinking the pressure is so much greater on the players that we rarely see them play up to their potential. On the other hand, the Euros have provided some fantastic high quality football. What can be more compelling than nations battling it out? By the way, there's plenty of clunkers in the Champions League games too.

  • Comment number 9.

    Wow Tim 2 blogs in a day. Very nice read again.

    We as football fans are lucky to see not only Messi but C Ronaldo in action. If Neymar lives up to the hype. We would have 3 players with unbelievable talent in football. Each with their unique personality.

    Congratulations to Messi for winning the Ballon D'Or 3 years running. A very special player with a child-like enthusiasm for football and without the major attitude that comes with being a multimillionaire footballers

  • Comment number 10.

    # 6 - "his lack of ego and assumption.....his genius"

    Totally agree, he reminds me of Federer in tennis - the complete role model. He has still got at least two World Cups in him to establish his status as a legend of sport.

  • Comment number 11.

    Love your posts Tim - the best on the BBC Sports site by a country mile. However, have to disagree with you that the Champions League has superseded the World Cup. At an emotional level, there is quite frankly no comparison. There may be a few die-hards in England, Spain and Italy who would prefer that their clubs win the CL rather than their countries win the WC, but they are outnumbered by a huge margin. And outside of these countries, there is probably no one who wouldn't take the WC first. Even in Spain, Iniesta was applauded at every away stadium last year for scoring the winning goal in the final.

    Other reasons why the WC rules - you can't buy a World Cup, it happens every 4 years so you have a limited window to win it, and there is the element of fate - you live with one team, however good or bad.

    So yes, to compare favorably with Pele and Maradona, Messi has to win a World Cup. Maradona's greatest achievement was winning in 86 and reaching the final in 90 with a team that would have gone nowhere without him. Pele obviously was in much better teams, and he won it twice. Messi probably has 2 more opportunities, and I wish him all the best.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think the reason Messi doesn't flourish for Argentina to the same extent he does for Barcelona is the midfields of the two collective teams. At Barca, he has Xavi and Iniesta... and now Fabregas who has gone to even greater heights since his move from Arsenal. These three in particular allow Messi to play at his un-rivalled best, to dazzle us all. However whilst playing for Argentina, he doesn't recieve that same support, with players like Cambiasso and Zanetti not exactly creative midfielders. Maybe Banega can take on that mantle but currently nothing seems to be working.

    Saying that, it takes nothing away from the player himself. The greatest talent of his generation and quite possible the greatest ever.

    For the record i would put him there along side Pele and Maradona.

  • Comment number 13.

    @ 12

    I think the other problem for Messi at international level is Higuain. The play seems to revolve around his talents as opposed to Messi's. Messi appears to be there more as the creator to Higuain whereas in the Barcelona team everything revolves around him and he has more opportunities created for him by such wonderful passers as Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas and even Villa last season.

  • Comment number 14.

    Wish it had been Ronaldo really. I do think he's the better player and he's had a fantastic year, and it would also be a nice change. This competition's getting dull. I think Rio Ferdinand was right when he said that had Ronaldo been the one winning everything he would have got the award.
    Glad Neymar won Puskas award though. Deep inside something tells me it should have been Rooney, but it's Rooney so... ;)
    How Messi ever got on that shortlist is beyond me, ahead of goals like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KJwKP1vXTk

  • Comment number 15.

    For pure talent it is still Maradona for me. But when the greats are mentioned don't forget the man that Diego mentioned himself, Di Steffano and his partner in that great Madrid team Ferenc Puskas.

    Also another Argentine who I used to love to watch and it was a crime he didn't receive more recognition outside Argentina and Italy was the great Batigol - Gabriel Batistuta he came so close to achieving with Fiorentina what Maradona did with Napoli.

    Back to the subject in hand. Messi is an outstanding player and when his career is over he will rightly be rated amongst the true greats of the game.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't think there's much point debating on who is better, Pele, Maradona or Messi, considering constructing a criteria to objectively judge all three is impossible since their careers span different generations. As a result there are nuances in the game that are either gone or didn't exist previously that prevent a fair comparison from being made, let's just settle with all there were the best during their time.

    Now onto the current, I think that while Messi deservedly won this year's award, last year's should have gone to Xavi. There's no point crying over spilled milk but I can't help but feel resentment towards the voters for not awarding Xavi with it the previous year. Unlike Messi, he's not really getting any better, and he's getting injured more and more. I'm afraid his time is up to win the award.

  • Comment number 17.

    Messi has now earned the right to be mentioned alongside Pele and Maradone as the holy trinity of greatest players to play the game..... If we wins the World Cup, then it's hard to look past him as the GOAT.

    However, I still think had Ronaldo (R9) not had those horrific knee injuries/fits, he'd be in that group as well and in my honest opinion.... maybe regarded as THE BEST Forward of all time.

    It's actually frightening to suggust that a 3 time World Player of the Year, leading World Cup goal scorer and 2 time World Cup winner underachieved! But he did.

  • Comment number 18.

    It's got to be Messi in my opinion; he's too quick for those leg-breaking defenders to have posed much of a threat to him. In my opinion, even though defenders were big bad lads then, nowadays its more difficult for any player to shine since teams are now set to stop each other from playing. I also think pele and maradona were very good players, but they both didn't have the same artistry as Messi. Messi caresses the ball, it appears to be glued to his leg, and his change of direction is amazing. He also provides many assists to his team mates. I think the main reason he's not reproduced his form for his country is he's not been given the free role, and also maradona was a terrible coach. I wouldn't see Argentina struggling the same way with a technically sound coach like Guardiola.

  • Comment number 19.

    There is no denying Messi talents, he is a fantastic player, and great to watch. But Iniesta and Xavi are a big reason to him looking like one of the best players who ever lived. They allow him to have so much time on the ball, and not forgetting the 95% pass completion rates they both have showing they can always get the killer pass to him. A lot of his goals were tap ins created by the rest of the squad, although there are some marvellous goals his self made (Real Madrid semis)

    I agree with 14, the problem with the UEFA ballon d'or is that if your club doesn't win anything regardless of how well you have done you will not be applauded. Ronaldo has done it for 3 clubs now, got to a Euro final. Further than Messi in the World Cup. I wouldn't put Messi to the talents of especially Maradona who won a world cup by himself, and played for some medicre of teams and won trophies.

    Finally on that how on earth was his a choice of the 3 best of the season, appauling decision. His goal against Panithinakos was better than that. I sure there were better goals out there. Neymars was pure quality in terms of skill.

  • Comment number 20.

    Messi is a joy to watch week in week out with Barcelona and has made the CL his own for the past 5 years.
    Look at his stats and as Xavi rightly pointed out..he will go on to smash all records in the coming years.
    He has incredible speed and an intellectual reading of the game which means as he gets older he will have the ability and nous to adapt his game at a slower pace..something that the likes of Rooney will never do.
    The World Cup debate i feel will become pointless when he has picked up his 7th or 8th World Player of the Year award in the coming years!
    Messi IS the best ever!!

  • Comment number 21.

    Of course you have to eatablish the criteria for the greatest player. Think also as Tim wrote, Messi has never experienced the same brutal treatment by defenders, as many past greats, he has been protected which has enabled him to show his skills. Contrary to popular belief, I believe defenders were better organised back then because they only had one prime function, to defend, whereas todays defenders [especially the backs] have to supplement attack.

    I've seen them all live going back to the 50's, Messi the greatest ever player, I'd have to say no. He would however be 5. You have to have seen them to appreciate them as players and to understand how great they were.

    If it was on ball control and dribbling alone, those amazing runs, he certainly ranks very high, Cruyff for example had the same ability with the ball at his feet. Pele had it but in a different way to Maradona, who was like a charging bull, almost unstoppable at times. Heading no contest, Pele.

    As a player who could play a multiple of positions [brilliant in every role, from defence to attack] had the greatest tactical awareness of all the above, a great goalscorer, it would have to be Alfredo Di Stefano another Argentine born player. Messi may well end up with a similar record in Spanish football.

    All bar Maradona have one thing in common, they stood out in a team of the highest quality. Maradona just stood out and never really played in the same type of teams.

    In terms of leadership qualities, Messi would certainly lag behind the greatest but as you quite rightly point out Tim, his game is centred around the collective. Messi's international record does prove he is human and maybe that is where he falls short. He may suprise us but Messi has shown no sign of being a Maradona who led like an old fashioned king leading his troops into battle.

    For me it's still Di Stefano, Maradona and Pele in no particular order but maybe there will be a fourth.

  • Comment number 22.

    11 - the World Cup, we can agree and I'm very glad to say, has more emotional power than the Champions League, and not just because it only comes round once every four years. But also because it has a greater power to represent people - the concept of the nation is more important than that of the club, generally speaking -i if Barcelona claim more it is because they see themselves as representing a nation.

    But purely in terms of playing standards, I think that these days the Champions League is well ahead - certainly that is what the players seem to believe.

  • Comment number 23.

    I also have to congratulate Neymar on the goal of the year, as a United fan I logged on fully expecting to give Rooney my vote (I didn't think Messi's goal was that amazing), but Neymar's blew me away and I had to give my vote to that.

    As for Messi, just an incredible player, but also a team player and humble at that. One of the things you either love or hate about Ronaldo is his arrogance, but in Messi you have an incredible player who understands the sport is a team game and plays as such, whilst still retaining the ability to turn a game on it's head with his own individual brilliance.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 22

    I agree with you Tim, I think the fans probably prefer the World Cup as it will have more sentiment to it. with it being a four-year event fans get far more excited about it. We also get to see a lot more players from across the world.

    the Champions League is where ALL the players want to be. Yes, it is great to play for your country. But the best players will want to win the Champions League and play for he best teams. Most of the current, and future, greats will win the CL. but they will not all win the WC.

    You can choose which club to play for, but you can't choose your nation. Look at Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best players of his generation who has won the CL and will no doubt win it again. but the chances of him winning a WC with Portugal? IMO. very slim.

  • Comment number 25.

    I don't know what Messi has. He's not that quick. Not that strong. Not that big.

    But at the highest level he always seems to have enough time and room to do what he does and make it look like a kid on the park playing.

    Ronaldo for all his obvious assets seems to have to work hard to do what he does, and kudos to him. But this Messi just seems to slide in to it with ease.

    True sign of a great. Hat doffed to the guy.

  • Comment number 26.

    Two articles in the same week by Tim - I thought Christmas has already passed. While Undoubtedly the Champions League is the highest level (The champions league really pulled out ahead somewhere in the 90s) I think that the World Cup is still the Biggest Stage, and while the world cup remains the biggest stage (where the eyes of the world and non football regulars will be focused) it will still be a requirement of players to at least have a memorable world cup (Cruyuff for example had a memorable world cup in 74 despite not winning) to be compared to the very best players of yesteryear. Admittedly World Cups have been poor recently (unlike the Euro's which have been excellent) and part of this reason is the unreasonable pressure that many players are put under. I think if we are to have a more exciting tournament where players like Messi can really shine, the pressure (and frankly a lot of the fluff) will need to be greatly reduced

  • Comment number 27.

    One element of comparison no-one seems to have mentioned is heavier balls - Messi has it glued to his toe but if given a modern ball surely Pele would have been able to as well? Likewise if Messi was given a ball from the 1950s, would he still have the ability to change direction so well? It really is impossible to compare players from different eras, although Messi is head and shoulders the best in the modern era. That said, I still don't see why Sneijder as driving force behind Inter's champions league and holland's WC final didn't win it last year...

  • Comment number 28.

    Lionel Messi is playing regular football for a Barcelona team many believe to be one of the greatest sides in the history of football. Barcelona are widely seen to hardly concede possession, and the almost perfect passing ratios of players such as Xavi and Iniesta as well as Busquets' ability to hold up the ball certainly reinforces that opinion. Such a well-oiled machine as Barcelona pride themselves on being a strong, united front, in which no-one is bigger than the team and everybody has their job to do.

    In this case, the team does seem to be created around the Argentinian, with Xavi and Iniesta feeding him inch perfect passes on a regular basis. The quality of delivery for Messi is unsurpassed and while he is given freedom in which to express himself and flourish within an extremely efficient team environment, the question has to be asked, would he be as good if he played for a worse team?

    Of course his skills are undoubted and his class is entirely obvious, but the fact remains that while much of his play is indeed majestic to watch, a lot of his headline grabbing performances have been a direct reflection of just how good the team chemistry is in the Barcelona camp. You would be hard pressed to deny his scarliy natural talent to keep the ball almost glued to his feet and how he can run past people apparently without breaking stride, but to say he is solely responsible would be somewhat unfounded. He is the shining element within that group of like-minded players, each fulfilling a role equal in importance to the specialised cells that work together to make sure your heart doesn't stop working.

    The most obvious comparison of recent times would have to be Messi and Ronaldo. While the stats are similar, with the pair scoring a ridiculous amount of goals, the main two areas of interest would be - if we ignore the teams importance for now - age and consistency. Messi has been a regular goal scorer since his early Barcelona years, going from strength to strength as he has grown. Ronaldo has indeed scored an enormous amount of goals, but Messi has shown at whatever age he has been able to score against whatever opposition.

    Messi is two years younger than Ronaldo and is breaking more records and relatively scoring more goals than him. While neither have performed internationally, you would have to say Messi has the edge due to his age.

    One thing I would say in Ronaldo's favour is how he has been involved - successfully - with two of the worlds biggest clubs in separate countries, scoring more goals than pretty much any other player at the same level. And neither of those teams have been the current Barcelona squad. Messi is a product of his generation, he is a product of the Barcelona generation, and he is constantly showing exactly how a unique talent can be confined to the mentality of a team sport in order for his individual ability be recognised.

    Perhaps Messi wouldn't be as successful as Ronaldo if he had played in England for four years, or if he wasn't a part of the Barcelona side, but at the same time, perhaps he would have been better. It would be presumptuous at best to ponder and offer a solid argument for or against, but the fact is Messi has developed and flourished through the academy and become a permanent member of the best team in modern football. He is a product of his generation and is a perfect example of how collective thought and ideology are used to bring about success.

    Here is a thought, if you were an English based football club would you rather have Ronaldo or Messi? I think Ronaldo is much more suited to English football. Messi will never leave Barcelona.

    The end of the world will be inherited by mongrels, while the rottweilers and alsations succumb to their specialities. Messi was bred to play for Barcelona; put him elsewhere, I would expect that while he would still be one of the best players around, someone else would be grabbing the headlines.

  • Comment number 29.

    Who's the best?

    Fascinating topic of endless debating, but one that proves limited and limiting every time. I think the Americans get it right when they pick the most valuable player. Although this category still requires some subjective opining, there's a greater degree of objectivity because one can focus on measurable referents like titles (the most prestigious being the WC, the CL, and the Eurocup), goals scored, global impact, and national legacy.

    IMDO, these are the most valuable players, decade by decade, some overlapping being unavoidable but not so much so that invalidates the distribution, which, admittedly, is as arbitary as any other. The best two are accompanied by the next 3 in relevance.

    50 Puskás, Di Stéfano
    O. Varela, Didí, F. Walter
    60 Garrincha, Pelé
    Eusébio, Best, B. Charlton
    70 Cruijff, Beckenbauer
    G. Müller, Kempes, Rivelino
    80 Platini, Maradona
    Van Basten, Gullit, Rummenigge
    90 Romário, Zidane
    R. Baggio, Rivaldo, Klinsmann
    00 Ronaldo (Br), ¿?
    ¿?

    And Messi? Still too early to tell where he’ll fit. But he will fit somewhere, that’s for sure. So will Ronaldo (P). Does Messi have to win a WC? No, but he has to do much better.

    But, who’s the most valuable of them all? I’d have to say Pelé, just because he marks a before and after in football history. What he accomplished in 58 was unheard of then and doesn’t cease to amaze us half a century later. He won one more WC in 70 --maybe 3 if you count 62, but that was Garrincha’s WC— to cement his place in world football lore. Personally, I’m more fond of Maradona, who was as flawed as a human being as he was flawless as a footballer.

  • Comment number 30.

    Jonnymagrinho
    @28

    I certainly agree, the point made of Ronaldo's ability to master [and he has been outstanding in both] two leagues, that play a different style of football. I have no doubt Ronaldo would improve any top class team but I am not so sure regarding Messi, having the same effect and I know that sounds crazy but........

    Barca's players have defined roles, they never resort to playing a different style of football, they can be a goal down minutes to go but at no time would they lose their shape or passing ethic. Everything is geared to getting Messi involved in the right areas, the areas where he can punish the opposition. Could he do what Ronaldo did in England? I'm not sure but I still think we'd look at him and say what a great player he is because he does possess that amazing ability to run with the ball and beat a player or two. Ronaldo's effectiveness and versatality, playing in different styles is proven.

  • Comment number 31.

    It’s not just a case of comparing players from different eras but also players on different positions. Messi needs someone to do all the hard work for him and then he applies the sublime finishing touch. If that someone is missing, as in the case of when he plays for Argentina, then he disappears.

    A player like Maradona, on the other hand, was an attacking midfielder, the creative force of his team, any team, the leader, who always carried the team on his shoulders, never shrugging off the challenges when the going got tough. All these are characteristics missing from Messi’s game.

    Messi is undoubtedly the best player in the world now but is no Pele/Maradona and never will be. It’s just not in him.

    Argentina insist on playing Messi as a good old attacking midfielder but that has never worked with him. He needs someone else to take responsibility for generating football and creating the opportunities for him, only then he might flourish for the national team, just like he does in Barcelona.

    Perhaps a fairer comparison would be between Messi and the great Ronaldo, although Ronaldo performed majestically with both club and country.

  • Comment number 32.

    In my lifetime, I think the best, most awe- inspiring and downright magical players have been Zidane, Ronaldinho and Messi. They just have/had an essence of excitement every time the ball gets to them. I won't even begin to attempt to compare Messi to past greats who I have never even seen a whole match of, nor do I really think there is a massive need for a "best ever" title considering the amount of absolutely top class players who because of other circumstances (injury, played for smaller club, played during wars, no footage of them, different eras of the game etc.) are not deemed able to qualify to compete for this theoretical crown.

    Similiarly, there is also of course the subjective quality to them- as a Newcastle fan I rate Shearer as one of the best goalscorers of his era but because of his loyalty he never went to Man United or any other elite club where he could've become a more internationally appreciated goalscorer (like Van Basten, Puskas, Batistuta etc.).

    Can't believe some of you don't think Messi's goal should have been on there!!
    My top three for the best goal award would have been:
    1. Messi
    2. Stankovic
    3. Neymar

    The really impressive thing about Neymar's goal was that he actually managed to refrain from diving for all that way! Must be his personal record!

  • Comment number 33.

    antonio saucedo
    @29

    interesting list of players, you certainly have made me feel old because i saw all but 2 play in the flesh.

    Do you not think it strange, when discussing greatest ever, we only ever see forward types of players. Yes your list contained Alfredo Di Stefano [one of my three all time greats] and Franz Beckenbauer, another of my personal favs but not in my top 3 as much as I'd like to see him in there. Those two players were the most versatile in your listing.

    As a leader Der Kaiser tops my list of all time captains, a true general on the pitch and it was no suprise to see him manage West Germany to World Cup glory. Maradona also a great leader on the pitch but a totally different type when compared to Der Kaiser and his flaws showed when he turned to managing his country.

  • Comment number 34.

    Two players that rarely get a mention in the all time greats lists, Jimmy Greaves and Gerd Muller, two players who I watched play many times, yet i can honestly say, I never saw them break into a sweat. They never did anything on a pitch but score goals.

    Jimmy Greaves with his 44 goals in 57 England matches is incredible and his 9 in 12 games for Milan [at a time when everything was geared for a player not to score in Italy] was even more outstanding, considering he was never happy in Milan and only lasted a couple of months before escaping.

    Gerd Muller 68 in 62 games for West Germany and almost 400 in 450 games for Bayern, those figure match anything any player can produce.

    As I say to the naked eye they both looked like they were out for a stroll in the park, yet for a few moments in a match they came alive and produced the goods.

  • Comment number 35.

    @33 "Do you not think it strange, when discussing greatest ever, we only ever see forward types of players."

    Indeed, when considering greatest player ever, we usually think of Pele/Maradona but I don't think they would've been that great as goalkeepers...or defenders. Maradona wasn't that great at heading the ball...well, with the exception of "that" header against England in 86. ;)

    We should have a greatest ever for every position on the field, although that would still cause problems... would we go with a 4-3-3?... or a 4-4-2?...3-5-2?...etc and then we'd still have several candidates for each position. It would be fun though.

  • Comment number 36.

    Also, I must contest this idea that Messi is this saintly figure and the consumately fair player. Granted, circumstantially he looks incredibly sporting, but that is only relative to the likes of Dani Alves and (possibly one of the least dignified players in top level football) Sergio Busquets. He most definately takes part in the beautifully rehearsed crowding of referees and also brandishes imaginary cards in a plea to play less opposition. I'm certainly not saying he's a terrible cheat or a disgrace in terms of these actions but it is simply false to claim he is angelic. He certainly has dived and feigned injury on occasions and also punched the ball into the net in his homage to the 'Hand of God' but the "best of a bad bunch" reality tends to get exaggerated to obscure anything negative he does. It is also used to attempt to make him the 'clean' alternative to Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Please don't think this is simply based on the Madrid Semi final of the champions league last season or on any kind of partisan dislike for Barca but having watched a great deal of La Liga since his debut I think a great deal of things that are done are purposely ignored- or sometimes consciously obscured because of the brilliance of Messi and Barca as a whole.

  • Comment number 37.

    Bladerunner
    @35

    Greatest team of all time, compiling that would be the greatest headache of all time, the formation the choices available and we'd still leave out the obvious to others.

    Seriously though, I do not think Messi would get into my greatest team of all time, or even make the bench, simply because i'd have to be certain he would fit my system and I've only ever seen the guy play in one way, successfully. His influence at national level is minimal [when asked to perform in a different manner] compared to the quality I know that existed elsewhere over the years.

    I certainly would not be doing an England [best eleven, no matter if they fit or not] manager, for my team and it would almost certainly contain a few rough diamonds. Players who could win the ball, afterall if you do not have the ball and your players can't get it, all the gifted players in the world are useless.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think Ronaldo should have every right to feel a little aggrieved at having not won the Ballon d'Or this year. Just look at what he's done for the less fancied Real Madrid - 2011/2012 = 17 appearances, one of which from the bench and he's bagged 21 goals. He's assisted and been involved in the lead up to countless goals too.
    2010/2011 = 34 appearances, one of which from the bench and he's bagged 40 goals. Unbelievable.

    Everyone loves the story of Messi, loves the fact he's grounded, loves the fact he plays in the team that plays beautiful football but for me it's the sentimental story, the nice guy that's won. Remember how this trophy is awarded - votes. If it was going on pure stats, assists and goals then Ronaldo is your man. He's playing in the same league for a team that's less fancied and he's on fire.

    Let's not bother comparing apples with oranges (Messi vrs Pele or Maradonna), Ronaldo is here today racking up the goals and assists at a higher rate than Messi and in the same league. Let's also not forget that Ronaldo has done it in the Premier League where it really is physical. Could Messi hack it in England? If he stays in Spain, a near two club league, we'll never find out if he truly is the best ever. No I have to object to the hype, Ronaldo is the best player in the world right now and not Messi.

  • Comment number 40.

    @johnnymagrinho

    You're wrong - Messi is not "generally scoring more goals than him" when making your comparisons to Ronaldo. Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid - 87 goals. In that same period Messi racked up 82.

    Before then, Ronaldo was gracing the Premier League something Messi, I doubt, could do to the same effect. I'd love him to try it would be a dream come true to see him play in the best league in the world.

    I will agree though, Messia and Ronaldo are the ones we should be comparing. Right now, on solo stats and not trophies, Ronaldo is outplaying Messi. Fact.

  • Comment number 41.

    Messi is a fantastic player that is a joy to watch. It always makes me laugh that wayne Rooney has ever been compared to him. One is a master, the other is a lumbering oaf in comparison.

    P.S. I am trying to recreate the old 606 at http://bit.ly/tw6Bdj

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    Never seen the other contenders as not that old but this guy is the best player I have ever seen kick a football, mesmerizing! (Zidane for me was also an immense player and exciting to watch) but Lionel Ritchie...sorry Messi really is something else! Joy to watch!

  • Comment number 44.

    Tim you mentioned a few weeks ago Neymar had no Xavi adn Iniesta behind him, and tbh Messi, whio is the bets player in the world, wouldnt flourish without that par behind him. he can play totaly unhunged in the final third where he can do most damage because THAT midfield is runnning rings round everyone.

    In my view its the best midfield ever and Messi, who again is the best player in the world, who is the chief benefit. If those two behind him dont win this award then football is a poor game indeed.

  • Comment number 45.

    @39

    Real Madrid are 'less fancied'? That's news to me. If a less fancied team can have players like Ozil, Benzema, Kaka, Alonso, Ronaldo, Di Maria, Ramos etc. I can hardly comprehend how good the 'fancied' teams are..

  • Comment number 46.

    Not many defender's mentioned but I think for the career he had and the medals he accumulated then Paolo Maldini deserves a mention. It's not all about player's who can skin an opponent.

    However, that said, I think a true great should be someone who has changed the game, someone who has introduced something never seen before. I'm not old enough to know who that is but I'm thinking Cruyff might be the leader. His turns have become part of the game.

    Best example I can relate to is Michael Jordan in the NBA. He introduced the art of "flying" and took the spectacular element to a whole new level that other's have since copied. He then also recreated his game when he was older and less able to fly. Instead, he perfected the fade away shot and remained at the top of the sport. If you had a last gasp shot to take, you go to Jordan. I remember him coming off the bench, suffering from flu and hitting a last gasp winner in a crucial play-off game. Who is football's MJ? Who has changed the game, stayed at the top by recreating their game and was a "go to" man?

    Anyone?

  • Comment number 47.

    39.Could Messi hack it in England?
    40. Before then, Ronaldo was gracing the Premier League something Messi, I doubt, could do to the same effect.

    Comments like the above always make me laugh, he scored twice against Arsenal last season, 4 in one game against them the year before and has scored in both CL finals against the supposed best team in England Man Utd – I don’t know what else he can be expected to do, given the standard of defending in the EPL this season Messi would run riot

  • Comment number 48.

    34.At 03:49 10th Jan 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:
    ______________

    Gunnar Nordahl of AC Milan springs to mind, 257 games, 210 goals and 33 games for sweden 43 goals.

    Not to mention the countless defenders that never get as much acclaim as forward players. Maldini and Nesta are possibly the best two defenders I have ever seen play, and neither have come close to winning the ballon d'or (albeit maldini was 3rd in 2003 and 1994)

  • Comment number 49.

    1.Messi thoroughly deserved.
    2.C Ronaldo should never be considered for such an award as he is one of the most unsporting players ever. He will always have to look up to Messi who is a true professional and genious.
    3. Absolutely staggering that Rooneys mis-kick should be considered for goal of the year. Yes it looked spectacular, but if you connect with the ball where you don't mean to, i.e your shin, its a miskick!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    No one can take away Messi's achievements or his clear skill and talent, but we have to take one thing into consideration when we start comparing him to all time greats. Messi is part of a top notch barca team, that can be considered an all time great in its own right.
    Pele was in a superb Santos side at club level, when the Brazil league was at a comparative high standard. Not to mention his WC exploits (which something Messi has yet to achieve).
    Maradona however was in a comparatively weaker Argentina and Napoli team, yet bar the CL has achieved equal and more to Messi.
    Would barca still be dominant in Europe without Messi? At a hypothetical guess (and looking at spain's success) I would guess that they would be. Would barca be as aestheticaly destructive as they are without Messi? The short answer is no.

    He will be a legend of the game (if not already) and rightly compared with those players at the end of his career, but it is too premature to be doing it now.

  • Comment number 51.

    Some of the logic I see in these debates (that always end up about messi vs ronaldo vs maradona vs pele…) is unbelievably naïve. Its like the arguments you used to have in primary school school about football.

    Trying to bash Messi because he doesn’t (yet) reach the levels for Argentina he does for Barcelona is nonsense. Yes, he plays with some of the best players in the world (and what I think will be seen as some of the best European players ever) in Xavi and Iniesta, but he’s as much a part of them as they are of him. He makes the space that they can pass into. He also creates a huge number of goals himself which people forget. And if anyone cares to take a look at any youtube montage of Messi’s goals, there are an obscene amount that is just sheer individual brilliance from Messi.

    I also think the point that a lot of people miss when comparing Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, whoever, is that Messi does this constantly at a level which (in my opinion) is higher than international level. The Champions League is a higher standard of football than international level. Messi has dominated it for the past 3 or 4 years, and will no doubt continue to do so. Remember, the guys only 24.
    And I don’t really understand the people who have to argue about Messi and Ronaldo. I am a massive fan of both, and although they bring different attributes to a team, they end result is pretty much the same, goals goals goals, and assists to go with them.
    I still think Messi edges it, and will go ultimately go down as the best player ever (again my opinion), but I think history will view Ronaldo right up there as well with Zidane, Cruyff, Platini, Di Stefano, in that sort of 2nd tier under Pele, Maradona and Messi.

    And when it comes to the best player ever debate, although I’ve said I think Messi will be viewed as such in time, I think its daft arguing about it as its impossible comparing players from different eras. Pele for example played all his days at Santos. The European audience will have seen virtually nothing of his club career, and only really had his world cups to go on. Pele’s reputation is based on approximately 15 – 20 games at a few world cups, when he happened to be a part of some of the best international teams of all time. I am not saying Pele shouldn’t be right up there, but is every move, game, team mates, system he played, etc wasn’t scrutinised every week, so it’s difficult for most people to give an accurate a

  • Comment number 52.

    account of his career.

    With Maradona, he came from an era where we saw far more of his games. And before people jump on my back, I think Maradona is probably still the best player ever at this point. However, again the myth sometimes grows when these debates start. At international level, he was obviously outstanding at world cup 1986. In fact, it’s probably the greatest tournament performance by any player ever. When you look at the others though, it’s not so great. Didn’t make 1978, sent off early in 1982 against Brazil, and in 1990 he was part of a team that kicked and screamed its way to the world cup final. Apart from one bit of brilliance against Brazil to put Cannigia in to score, he was not particularly good there. And in 1994 he scored a great goal, but then got banned for drug taking. At club level the myth is also that he single handedly won Napoli two Serie A titles. He obviously had a huge part to play in that, but I’m sure some of his team mates like Careca would have had something to say about that. And when you read Maradona’s autobiography, he is the first to big up his team mates contributions.

    To sum this up, we now see every game Messi plays. His every move is scrutinised. And yet he still looks stunning virtually every game for Barcelona. With Argentina he has not hit the heights yet, mainly due to continual chopping and changing of the team and systems over the past few years. He still has nearly 20 international goals though, and I have no doubt it will click for Argentina at some point, with Messi showing why he is the best player ever.

  • Comment number 53.

    yes messi is outstanding no1 can deny that however i dont think he should of won it this year.for me cristiano ronaldo had a more impressive season i agree with post 14 that if real madrid had won la liga and the champions league he would of gotten the award.ronaldo's goals record stands out far more for me not just because he scored more but because he's not a natural striker he's traditionally a winger.as for best of all time just because he was blighted by injury and now retired do not forget about the original brazilian ronaldo.for me to disregard him as mention the top 3 as pele,maradona and messi is disrespectful ronaldo is still a long way ahead of messi in my view he is the greatest striker in the history of football in my opinion and he proved it on every stage in different national leagues,the champions league.the world cup.messi has not plyed his trade in a different league and done nothing at international level.and until he does so please stop the best ever chants.as for the actual player of the year fifa need to look outside the box for a change im personally tired of seeing messi,xavi and iniesta the contenders yes there great but so are a lot of other players for example robin van persie had 1 hell of a year yet didnt make the shortlist but xavi did.people are alreay getting tired of the tedious procession of seeing the same barca players get the awards year in year out fair enough best team atm so yeah team of the year but do the really deserve all the individual awards as well.i would have to say no

  • Comment number 54.

    53.At 09:06 10th Jan 2012, Alkaholic wrote:
    ________

    Unfortunately (as with most FIFA sponsored events) the ballon d'or has transformed into a "popularity contest" rather than the truly prestigious and objective award it once was.

    As I've said before, there is no doubt that messi is an outstanding talent, but there almost seems to a "love in" with the player that leads to the plain ignorance of other achievements. How RVP failed to make the shortlist is beyond me. Even when inter won the CL, with the likes of sneijder and lucio being instrumental, they didn't even get into the top 3.

    I have always been a huge of the award, but since 2006 I've fallen out of love with it, and see it more as FIFA "propaganda" than anything else.

  • Comment number 55.

    3. Absolutely staggering that Rooneys mis-kick should be considered for goal of the year. Yes it looked spectacular, but if you connect with the ball where you don't mean to, i.e your shin, its a miskick!!!
    ------------------------

    I've tried arguing this point but no one will have it...did he mean to do an overhead kick? of course....was it executed perfectly and as intended....no! great goal it was indeed but surely a "shinner" cant be shortlisted!

  • Comment number 56.

    Messi's isnt that good, in fact when i played against him he was aweful, i scored a hat trick against him, honestly im better in nets than he is....... over rated ;)

    Well deserved, take Messi and Ronaldo out of football for this generation and we would have a bland look to the sport. I tried to go to barca last year to watch him but could get tickets. not going to miss out this year.

  • Comment number 57.

    thats the difference with maradona.he dragged a very ordinary team in 82,86 and even 90 (till the drugs got the better of him) to greater heights. pele had quality all around him in 58,62 and 70. messi has had an unsettled side so far but i believe he will emulate maradona in 2014 or 2018. he may end up being a combination of maradona and pele. pele's sportmanship with maradona's capacity for the breathtaking........still cant beat garrincha though!

  • Comment number 58.

    totally agree eduard_streltsov_ghost

    it is a popularity contest and because generally messi is more popular than cristiano ronaldo he will will always beat him in the player of the year.i personally believe cr7 wont win another ballon d'or simply because messi is there i cant see things changing messi will probably win about another 4 have 7 in total then be lauded the best of all time like some already say he is.to be honest im a bit sad about that.even early 2000's they looked at other players why do you think zidane,brazils ronaldo only got a couple each because they was also looking at your rivaldo's,figo's,raul but now days i already know the outcome 2012 winner is... messi 2013... messi... so sad.all i can say is im suprised he didnt win goal of the year obviously the right guy won it neymar's was a far better goal but as weve discussed in terms of popularity messi will have to think that theres 1 that got away from him

  • Comment number 59.

    @ Post 53 Alkaholic

    You and the other post seems confused about the facts. First of all Messi has been outscoring and having more assists than Ronaldo every single season season since 2008, 4 years ago and is doing so this season too so i don't know where you seem to be getting the delusion from that somehow Ronaldo deserves the Ballon D'Or award because his goals last season were far impressive. The opposite actually considering 10 of his goals came after Barca won the league and Madrid were knocked out of the CL and Real Madrid pledged to help Ronaldo win the Pichichi. Where was he last year when Messi was scoring to help Barca beat Madrid to get to the CL final where he put in MOTM performance to win the CL? Don't get get me started on their meetings in the league. Messi has been outperforming Ronaldo every season since 2008 and why he is always winning the awards. Even with 53 goals each last year, Messi got 24 assists to go with it.

    Anyways, congratulations to Messi for winning the Ballon D'or for the 3rd straight year. A great achievement for he greatest player of his generations. He is in the debate with Pele and Maradona and more is expected of him in coming World Cups.

    When people talk about Messi for Barcelona they forget one thing, even for the ridiculous amount of goals he scored, he creates an almost ridiculous amount as well. Infact he gets more assist than both Xavi and Iniesta combined. I personally think Danny Alves is probably the player more intergral to Messi's performances. He assist him alot and his exploits down the right wing helps Messi exposed opposition defenders every time. And for the so called he hasn't played in the PL comment. how many times is he going to embarrass English opposition for that joke to stop?

  • Comment number 60.

    Post 40 -
    "I will agree though, Messia and Ronaldo are the ones we should be comparing. Right now, on solo stats and not trophies, Ronaldo is outplaying Messi. Fact."

    It makes me want to gouge my eye out when players are compared according to a bunch of numbers.

    I watch Real and Barca week in week out, and i can assure you, Messi and Ronaldo are in a different league. Messi is absolute wizard with the ball, and almost never makes a mistake, whilst Ronaldo is an suprisingly erratic player. His shooting and heading abilities are incredible, but he truly is NOT Messi!

  • Comment number 61.

    forgot to add that surely fifa made a balls up with team of the year they got every position right except they named 2 right backs in it (alves & ramos) but no left back???surely marcelo should have been included at the expense of 1 of those 2?

  • Comment number 62.

    From when Ronaldinho lost form, to to probably 2020, the debate will always be Ronaldo or Messi. While they are of equal importance to their respective teams, and score a similar amount of goals, I would have to say messi has more natural ability than Ronaldo.

    When Ronaldo first joined United, he was a nightmare to play against, but he was probably a nightmare to have in your team. Attempting rabonna crosses when all it required was a cut back, trying 300 stepovers to beat a man instead of using his pace and control. But he's matured now, he's an absolute sensation. But, he barely produces in "big games". By big games, I mean against Barcelona, Arsenal (when he was at Utd), ect.

    Messi thrives on big games. He doesn't need the 300 stepovers. He uses his supreme ball control and body to evade tackles. He's almost a clone of Maradona (minus the stocky build and crazy hair). Defenders bounce off him, he bounces off defenders.

    Better finisher than Ronaldo, sets up more goals and retains the ball better.

  • Comment number 63.

    A lot of people saying would Messi cope in England and 47. cincyred said that he's scored against English teams like Man Utd and Arsenal but I don't really think that's the point. Can he play without Xavi and Iniesta week in, week out?

  • Comment number 64.

    @59, Ronaldo outscored messi last season. Broke a La Liga record, If i'm not mistaken.

  • Comment number 65.

    What is a generation? I guess the fact that Messi and Zidane didn't really overlap means we are in a new generation and therefore Messi is the best of this generation.

    Overall though, I still can't see past Zidane in 'our' times. Club and country.

  • Comment number 66.

    Post 39. "Could Messi hack it in England?"

    Ummm.....sound like another person who thinks the English league is special in some way. Yes its its one of the very best in Europe, attracting some of the best players and giving some of the best entertainment. But no, its not by any means that far removed from the other leagues for a comment like that to have any meaning.

    Look at one of the outstanding performers in the premier league last year - the Spanish Silva, Febregas, and Mata. All small Spanish players who came to England and showed us how to do it! Messi would rip apart any team in England just like he does when he plays against them for Barca.

  • Comment number 67.

    @63. No, you're right. He has it easy in Spain playing against Ramos, Pepe, Godin. Also, he's got it easy in the Champions League playing against Vidic, Vermaelen, etc.

    He simply couldn't cope against the magnificence of Ryan Shawcross at Stoke on a wet Wednesday night.

  • Comment number 68.

    didnt see Pele pla....But I saw Maradona play in teh late 80 through to the early 1990s and Messi in nowhere near that level......Messi is carried by the collective play of the Barcelona team.......Maradona carried the teams he played in including the national team........ maradona played for teams like Seville in Spain and Napoli in Itally and he carried them........the soccer world cup is the ultimate football competition not the champions league as yu suggest. Yes the UCL has the hype, huge money etc etc but the holy grail for any football player worth his salt in the world cup. Messi is a world footballer of the year when he plays for barcelona and not for the national team. Maradona was footballer of the year for both club and country

  • Comment number 69.

    65.At 09:50 10th Jan 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    ____________

    Depends what "our generation" is I guess. I would guess you and I are of similar age, but somebody like Londoner would have had viewed a long line of football superstars. Would be intersting who he rates as the best of his generation.

    And as I alluded to before, I think it's a shame that defenders and goalkeepers don't receive equal or similar recognition. Guys like Buffon, Nesta and Maldini have been some of the finest players in "our" generation and would be in many people's world XI.

  • Comment number 70.

    Do we have to have a winner all the time? I just celebrate these amazing footballers as they present themselves.
    Pele,Cruiff, Best, Puskas, Usabio, Beckenbaur, Messi, Ronaldo x 2, Bergamp, Mattieus, Zidane, Figo......The list goes on and on.

    Forget the best, just be happy when you get acquainted with them along the years.
    For me footballers are the creme de la creme in the sporting world and every now and again you see people do with their feet you would struggle to do with two hands.
    That's magical...from all of them, the crowns they picked up with club and country along the way..No need for false crowns of "the best" everyone who watched them along the years witnessed the best. I for one am happy I did..They are all heroes.

  • Comment number 71.

    seen as were quoting facts @post 59 lets see since 2008/09 season ronaldo is 113 league games 105 league goals.messi is 116 league games 105 league goals messi not outscoring him at all! and yes while they both scored 53 goals last season messi played a game more and with averaging over a goal a game since going to real its safe to say cr7 would at least of scored 1 if not 2 or 3 in that game which would of took him clear of messi and ended all argument however thank ur lucky stars that messi got that 1 extra game in!

  • Comment number 72.

    why do people never mention "o fenomeno" ronaldo9 when talking about the greatest, always pele and maradona, im sorry but ronaldo blows both them two out the water but messi is getting close to him. have people actually forgot how good ronaldo was? and at every club he was at and nevermind his world cup record. not to mention he lost 3-4 years due to his injuries.

    messi well deserved winner

  • Comment number 73.

    "I think Rio Ferdinand was right when he said that had Ronaldo been the one winning everything he would have got the award."

    Not surprised that came from the duck. Stupid comment. Why do you think Barca win everything? Because THEY HAVE MESSI.

    Swap Messi and Ronaldo around and Madrid would win the CL and League

  • Comment number 74.

    64.At 09:48 10th Jan 2012, Heskeys_wonderful_stepovers wrote:
    @59, Ronaldo outscored messi last season. Broke a La Liga record, If i'm not mistaken.


    ======================

    It's a miracle, the Ballon D'OR has now suddenly become who scored more goals in the league. Ronaldo had 40 goals in the league because his teamates laid every thing down for him after Barca won the league and the aim was to make him score enough goals to win the Pichichi. Messi outplayed him in the league almost throught again and got more assist. This season Ronaldo has 21 goals in the league and Messi 17 but guess how many penalties Ronaldo has even taken. In total Messi has 31 goals and 14 assits already. He will win the award again if they manage to win the league and CL this season.

  • Comment number 75.

    The supposed problem with Messi having a great team around him as opposed to Maradona doesnt really wash with me, whilst Maradona was frightening Messi works in a different way as part of a great team. Its almost like comparing one of the Bryan Brothers with Federer. Granted they wouldnt be as good on their own but thats not really the point. All three are the best ever at the very different style that they played.

  • Comment number 76.

    @ post 66 i think you'll find last season juan mata was playing for valencia in la liga.not the premiership *facepalm*

  • Comment number 77.

    #69 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Well, I did make an argument for player of the season recently and said I thought it was Kompany so far. The reason being that I think he has made the most significant contribution to his team.

    For world player of the year though, I guess it is more likely to go to someone who get's you on the edge of your seat.

  • Comment number 78.

    alot of bitching going on today, did we all get out of the wrong side of the bed!!! Messi came first ronaldo second, theres not much between the 2, if you think messi is so much better than ronaldo then just look at the stats, ronaldo had the better season on solo stats messi better on team stats, without reading too much into it swap ronaldo for messi and hay presto ronaldo wins the award.... imo.

  • Comment number 79.

    @alkoholic

    Why are you reducing their contributions to purely goals? If you want stats you should look into when both players have scored in games.

    Messi scores important goals, ie the first or the goal that gets Barca into the lead. Ronaldo scores when Madrid are n nil up and cruising.

    I've read figures that show clearly that Ronaldo scores most of his goals when Madrid are already 2 nil up. He's cashing in when the game is finished. Also Ronaldo tends to score more in one game, say like Berbatov. Doesn't score for 5 games and then bangs in a hat trick against someone terrible in a 6 nil result.

    Figures for Messi on the otherhand show that he tends to score in close games and more consistently across games

    If you ignore direct assists as well you'd see that Messi is involved in Barcas play and more of their goals than Ronaldo is for Madrid. Ronaldo is all about himself, whereas Messi is about the team. That's the difference

  • Comment number 80.

    #72 Meido

    I think it is probably because younger people look at him now and think 'christ, did someone with that frame seriously play football recently?'. :-)

  • Comment number 81.

    messi is the best player i have ever seen just shades it over brazils ronaldo(not the portugese one)
    the ways he carries himself on and off the pitch are wonderful no tantrums(punching the floor when he doesnt get his own way cr7) trys his best to stay on his feet after being fouled and distances himself from the media glare
    he does the talking on the pitch wonderful

  • Comment number 82.

    @74. I was NOT saying Ronaldo was better because he outscored Messi. Have a look at my previous post where I argued that Messi was better. I simply corrected a fellow poster... :rollseyes:

  • Comment number 83.

    14

    apart from amount of goals scored can you point me in the direction of moments of magic ronaldo produced?

    if you are the best in the world you have to have shown your worth with magical moments in which ronaldo produced zero, messi on the other hand did this many times and with the goal tally of ronaldo's to go with it.

    truly astounds me how folk think he in any way deserved it or is a better player, people have opinions yes but they have to make sense first.

  • Comment number 84.

    71.At 10:01 10th Jan 2012, Alkaholic wrote:
    seen as were quoting facts @post 59 lets see since 2008/09 season ronaldo is 113 league games 105 league goals.messi is 116 league games 105 league goals messi not outscoring him at all! and yes while they both scored 53 goals last season messi played a game more and with averaging over a goal a game since going to real its safe to say cr7 would at least of scored 1 if not 2 or 3 in that game which would of took him clear of messi and ended all argument however thank ur lucky stars that messi got that 1 extra game in

    ---------------------------------------

    Your post since to be getting more delusional. Infact Messi does not even need to outscore Ronaldo. He just plays better than him and for the team to win trophies which is always good enough to win this kind of award. So where did Ronaldo's get Real Madrid last season? A Copa Del Rey. No wonder some Madrid fans booed him this season for playing for himself and not the team. Again this season Messi is outscoring ang getting more assist than him even with less penalties taken yet again. Ronaldo could have got 60 goals last season and still wouldn't have beaten Messi to this award. Everytime they meet, Messi outperforms him, including El Classico again this season. It's even a waste of time comparing them. Messi is in the arguement with Pele and Maradona.

  • Comment number 85.

    80 mrbb

    lol, ye probably. although did you see him even when he was at corinthians? he was still superb.

  • Comment number 86.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 87.

    Messi and C Ronaldo are undoubtedly the best two players today.
    Even with them still playing, people cannot agree who is best. And even with them playing in the same league, arguments still occur.

    However comparing Messi with past players is even worse. Different eras, different way of playing, different mental and physical attitudes to the modern and past games. The world sees Pele and Maradona as the greatest two. It is nearly an universally accepted fact. Will Messi or even C Ronaldo join them, nobody will know until they both retire.

    Personally I think how it is unfair to play in other positions and not get the same recognition. Best player ever should be split into best player as goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and forward. Lev Yashin is accepted as the greatest goalkeeper of all time. Why isn't he on par with Pele or Maradona. Yes he doesn't score the goals but he does perform miracles and saves a lot of penalty. How can one compare a goalkeeper and forward with best player? Saying that, I read Pele was the nominated goalkeeper in days when there was no substitutions. He actually enjoyed playing in goals now and again.

    In terms of overall football, it is not just about attacking, defending is part of the game. Beckenbauer was a master of defending and attacking. He won even more than Pele or Maradona. Plus he is better coach by winning world cup too. (also being in one of the skits in Monty Python.) I would have him at the same level as Pele and Maradona.

    I know this is completely different sport but Michael Jordan once mentioned that he does have regrets about his flashy offense and dunks. It made kids think that this is the only way to play basketball. The ability to make jump shots, the ability to defend , teamwork and have a good overall balance is much more important than just dunking and looking spectacular. He said kids learning basketball needs to understand this balance. Same applies to football, the Peles, Maradonas, Messis will always get the headlines and called the best ever players. Best player ever doesn't really exist, only best player in certain areas of the field. If one day we find a player who excels in attack, defence and a little in between, that player gets my vote as greatest. (I have a soft spot for defending)

  • Comment number 88.

    Surely what makes Messi unique is is his consistency, I have watched him many times on tv and his performance level never seems to falter (at least when playing for Barca). Argentina need to build a team around his talent, as they did with Maradona and then he may be able to fulfill his destiny on the world stage. Until then watch and wonder, surely the most complete footballer to play in the modern era.

  • Comment number 89.

    btw since 2008 for argentina messi has played 41 games for them scoring a massive 11 goals.ronaldo however 35 games 12 goals doesnt seem that far apart however when you consider where they play n who they play with thats compelling evidence that ronaldo can do it anywhere messi can do it at barcelona.as for people making excuses for messi's international form argentina have 1 of the best if not the best offensive lines ur telling me playing with players the likes such of gaitan,pastore,lavezzi,di maria then they other front men tevez,higuain,aguero and he cant score goals...? please higuain and aguero have nearly scored as many as messi in half the games so why arent they struggling for goals if he's so much better than any1 else?

  • Comment number 90.

    84.At 10:16 10th Jan 2012, Tennis_Tutor wrote

    "It's even a waste of time comparing them. Messi is in the arguement with Pele and Maradona"

    too true!!

    all ronaldo fans have to compare to messi is goals, other than that what is there?

    may aswell say dixie dean was as good as pele and eusebio.

  • Comment number 91.

    63. DeanMUFC – the English Media constantly move the goal posts, first it was he couldn’t score against an English team, then it was he couldn’t score in England both of which he achieved and now you are having a go at him because he gets great support from his teammates – and as for the whole wet Wednesday in Stoke debate if that’s held up as some kind of benchmark to measure performance then football is truly doomed. Surely if the self proclaimed “best league in the world” was that good scoring at Old Trafford or the Etihad should be the true measure not this nonsense constantly used a stick to beat him about coping against plodders like Wigan and Stoke etc

  • Comment number 92.

    dixie dean as good as pele and eusubio... he was!!! lol

  • Comment number 93.

    Id have either at United, they are both better tashn any player in the Prem or that plays for england, they are both the best players in the world, messi has the advantage of playing for barca, ronaldo has done what he does for both united and real where as messi does it for barca but struggles to do the same for argentina, take what you want fromthat comment but imo ronaldo can be more potent, messi has no real weaknesses to his game but if i could choose one i would be stuck in thought for months

  • Comment number 94.

    Wayne Rooney gets in the team of the year ahead of Robin Van Persie? Must be the Union dictating things again! Joke shop.

    And 2 right backs? They may as well call it " The best team we could come up with using Real and Barca's squads, and Rooney because we dont want to upset Fergie"

  • Comment number 95.

    Well just for the record Messi played 14 games for Argentina last year, scoring 4 goals and 10 assist, what a terrible return.

    Alkaholic don't get me started on Ronaldo can do it anywhere. Did he not go 18 months without scoring a goal for Portugal? Infact pointing at Higuain and Aguero, has Nani not been out performing Ronaldo for Portugal?

  • Comment number 96.

    73.At 10:04 10th Jan 2012, Ichi_1 wrote:
    "I think Rio Ferdinand was right when he said that had Ronaldo been the one winning everything he would have got the award."

    Not surprised that came from the duck. Stupid comment. Why do you think Barca win everything? Because THEY HAVE MESSI.

    Swap Messi and Ronaldo around and Madrid would win the CL and League
    ______________

    I think barca win "everything" because they have xavi, iniesta & busquets and pedro, villa & messi rather than they just have messi.

    If your logic were true, argentina would be reigning world cup and copa america champions. they are not.

  • Comment number 97.

    Messi is right up their with the very best players of all time. I never like comparing different eras or positions, the parameters are too wide for that to work. But in terms of pure natural ability and consistent influence on the result of matches, Messi is as good as anyone, ever.

    Usually, great players have baggage, but Messi doesn't. You never read a story about him misbehaving off the field and that is rather unique. He has the huge talent of George Best, but none of the demons. He has also been lucky with injuries and if that continues, he could break all kinds of records. His goalscoring in recent seasons is nothing short of remarkable.

    Messi is the clear difference between Barcelona and Spain. Sometimes Spain struggle to break down the opposition and it is a small chink in the armour. But with Barcelona, you always feel that Messi can carve through the defence and score on his own. He is the prototype 'game-breaker' in modern football.

    So, is Messi the best player ever? Its impossible to judge. He needs to perform well at a world cup, that is where the true legends of the game prove their worth. But with Barcelona, he has been terrific.

    The term great is massively overused in the modern game. But Lionel Messi truly is a great player. Mind-boggling technique, searing pace, imagination, vision, surgical finishing and a strong work ethic. He really is on another level to anyone playing currently.

  • Comment number 98.

    77.At 10:10 10th Jan 2012, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    #69 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Well, I did make an argument for player of the season recently and said I thought it was Kompany so far. The reason being that I think he has made the most significant contribution to his team.

    For world player of the year though, I guess it is more likely to go to someone who get's you on the edge of your seat.
    ____________________

    Yeah I know mate, I'd have said 4 possible city players for player of season, kompany, toure, silva & aguero (aguero because he's done so well in his first season). No doubt someone like bale would probably end up winning though.

    All I have to say on maldini though, was that he was so good, he didn't need to make a tackle.

    One of the great debates, Pep's Barca v Sacchi's Milan.....

  • Comment number 99.

    58

    maybe if others "showed" why they deserve to be winners then ok fair enough.

    but if you hand out an award to someone you clearly know does not deserve it then what is the point in the award?

    if messi in the next 3 years is head and shoulders above everyone like he has been the last 4 years then why should anyone else be handed the award? its not his fault no one has took the step up to his level with consistent performances with consistent magical moments.

    what? give it to xavi coz he completes 94% of his passes each game? that outwheighs what messi produces does it? i dont think so myself.

  • Comment number 100.

    @49

    "3. Absolutely staggering that Rooneys mis-kick should be considered for goal of the year. Yes it looked spectacular, but if you connect with the ball where you don't mean to, i.e your shin, its a miskick!!!"
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Have you ever played football? I am not a Rooney fan at all, but from a young age, when striking a volley, I was taught to hit the ball with my laces. Put yourself mid-air and upside down, and you will realise thats what he did. If he had shinned it at that angle it would have flew into row Z.

    On Messi, I'm quite young and have never seen a lot of Maradonna or Pele, however, the clips we get shown again and again of Maradonna and Pele, Messi seems to do these things often. But like I say, I'm not the best position to say whose the best. However between Messi and Ronaldo, when people say that the only reason Ronaldo will never be looked at like Messi because of his personality...precisely, Messi is the main man in a great team that enjoy playing with him. Ronaldo is the main man in a great team, who see that hes an asset, but also see him moaning after being kicked a couple of times, where as Messi pulls his socks up and goes again.

 

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