9 January 2013

Messi d'or

The world's best footballer has perhaps the world's worst fashion sense!

Lionel Messi has been named the best player in world football for an unprecedented fourth year in a row.

The Barcelona and Argentina sensation capped off a wonderful 2012 with a comfortable victory in the vote for the FIFA Ballon d'Or. He picked up 41.6% of the vote, with his great rival - Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo - 'only' picking up 23.7%.

In any other year, Ronaldo would have been a dead cert to be named World Player of the Year. His goals tally for La Liga champions Real Madrid was a scarcely believable 60 from just 55 games, and he also scored nine goals in 14 games for UEFA Euro 2012 semi finalists Portugal. He is a remarkable player who makes others look ordinary, and would have been a very deserving winner of his second World Player award.

But then again, Messi makes even Ronaldo look ordinary. His tally of 91 first-class goals in a calendar year have never been matched by any other player (although the Zambian FA think differently), and in all likelihood never will. But that stat only tells part of the story that has been Messi in 2012.

In the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, Messi produced one of the greatest individual performances of all-time by scoring five times in one match against Bayer Leverkusen. He would finish that Champions League campaign with a record 14 goals.

If that was an incredible record, words cannot describe his recent performances in La Liga. In the Spanish top flight last season, he scored 50 goals - four ahead of Ronaldo, who would have literally been in a league of his own but for the Argentine's existance. The left-footed magician also picked up 16 assists, with only Real midfielder Mesut Ozil beating him on that particular statistic.

Astonishingly, Messi could even eclipse the half-century mark in terms of goals in a La Liga season this time around! After just 18 games, he already has 27 goals to his name! Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao have both been deadly in front of goal but neither, it seems, can keep up with Leo!

Despite having such an outstanding player in their team, incredibly, Barcelona won only one major trophy in 2012 - the Copa del Rey. One of Barca's three goals in their Final victory over Athletic Bilbao came from you know who.

With records falling faster than the average footballer in the penalty box, there will of course be some protractors who will say that the quality of La Liga defenders outside of the big two is, well, not exactly world-class. But you could also say that about a lot of defenders in the Premier League, so if Messi decided to move to either of the Manchester teams, he'd more than likely be smashing every conceivable attacking record in England as well.

At the age of 25, Messi may not have even reached the peak of his powers just yet. With that in mind, the question is not whether he will win the FIFA Ballon d'Or again in this new year, but how many Ballon d'Ors will he finish his career with?

It's a real possibility that he could end up with something like 7, 8, 9, even 10 Ballon d'Ors if he is still turning the most self-assured centre-backs into quivering wrecks in 2018, when he will - frighteningly - only be 31 years old.

Barcelona team-mate Daniel Alves said, "For as long as Messi is around, the Ballon d'Or makes no sense." That sums it up.

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