Football is a game of opinions, right or wrong does not come into.
Every football fan has a favourite in the perceived Cristiano Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi, but for me Messi is the best player I have ever seen grace a football pitch.
On Monday night the little Argentinian collected his fifth Ballon d’Or award in Zurich to cap an incredible year for the little man.
The 28-year-old took the award after rival Ronaldo had claimed consecutive awards.
Messi had a fantastic 2015
Messi has played a big part in Barcelona’s success for nearly a decade. In season 2014/15 he netted 43 times and also produced the most assists in La Liga. He helped the Catalan giants to La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League glory.
Messi also helped Argentina to the Copa America final, only to lose to the hosts Chile on penalties. It is his contribution to Barcelona’s success that won him the award though.
Messi and Ronaldo have both been criticised for their performances on the international stage at times, but they have been fantastic for their clubs, even if Ronaldo is starting to wane.
Greatest player of my generation
The old cliché of running out of superlatives applies to Messi. To my generation Messi will be the one that we tell our grandkids about. He will be our Pele, our Johan Cruyff, or our Diego Maradona.
I am only old enough to remember the remnants of Maradona’s career and only ever saw him playing for Argentina, as televised European football was not so widespread in my childhood. I cannot say I was lucky enough to watch the likes of Pele or Cruyff play, but Messi I have.
Surely Messi has now earned the right to be talked about in the same breathe as the likes of Maradona and Cruyff. There will always be somebody that disagrees, but I have never seen a player do things on a football pitch that Messi does.
His sheer individual skill and brilliance is often breath taking. He scores goals that very few players in the world are capable of scoring, combining individual brilliance with work for the team to perfection.
Being a good teammate is maybe were he has the edge over Ronaldo. No doubt Ronaldo is a great goalscorer, a great athlete and a great all-around player. However, sometimes his individuality is clear to see, as his reaction to a Karim Benzema goal for Real Madrid recently revealed and not for the first time.
Ronaldo has dominated the award in recent years for his ability to score goals, but the Portuguese is always going to be compared with contemporary Messi and his goal scoring record.
Going strong this season
Messi has recovered from injury superbly this season. The diminutive star missed eight games through a knee injury in two different spells and has still sustained his form. This season Messi has scored 18 goals and produced eight assists for the Catalan giants in all competitions.
Barcelona are once again looking good in the Champions League and are second in La Liga with a game in hand on leaders Atletico Madrid. A win will send Luis Enrique’s side back to the top of the Spanish top-flight.
Messi and Ronaldo have dominated the Ballon d’Or in recent years, but Messi’s Barcelona teammate Neymar, who finished in this year’s voting, could now be well placed to challenge for next year’s award.
The Brazilian has been outstanding in the last few years. The 23-year-old still has plenty of time to knock Messi and Ronaldo off their perches, in Messi’s case in the nicest possible sense.
The former-Santos star is currently the second highest scorer in La Liga, after Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez. He is currently odds of 10/3 to win Spain’s golden boot award. Neymar, Suarez and Messi are without doubt the most effective attacking trio in club football.
If Neymar or even Luis Suarez threatens Messi and Ronaldo’s dominance of the award in 2016, then no doubt the little Argentinian will be one of the first to congratulate his Barcelona teammates. In fact he has been pretty magnanimous when Ronaldo has claimed the award.
Something tells me Messi’s love affair with the Ballon d’Or is not yet finished, as he has returned from injury in fine form. The little Argentinian cannot be written-off for this year’s award and adding to his growing collection of silverware and awards.
Is Lionel Messi the best player you have ever seen play football?