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Is Lionel Messi as good as we think he is?

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16th June, 2019
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Lionel Messi is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best, player in modern football, but he never seems to manage to transition his magnificent magic into Argentina. Why is this?

Some people say it is because he needs great players to make him great, but can you get any better than Sergio Aguero and him up front?

Assuming Messi does need good players around him to make him great, why can’t he succeed in Argentina’s national football team? They may not be the best team in the world, but they’re certainly good enough to at least make it to the semi-finals of the Copa America, and you would think they’d be able to challenge Brazil, who seems to be the best team in South America at the moment.

Cristiano Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi has been one of the biggest rivalries football has ever seen. The beautiful game has been blessed to be able to see two of the best footballers in history play in the same league against each other consistently.

Lionel Messi

(Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

As for the national team debate, Cristiano Ronaldo has won that easily. His UEFA Nations League medal was recently added to his UEFA European Championship medal, making it two-nil to Ronaldo. The Portugal team that won the Nations League was an exceptional team full of bright young stars and of course Cristiano Ronaldo, but the team that beat France in 2015? I would say they were worse than the team that Argentina fielded up against Colombia in the Copa America first round.

Then why can’t Messi find his grove in the national team? Is it due to the coaching? Maybe. Is it due to the style? Probably not. They have built a team around Messi. Is it due to the team as a whole? Probably not. But could it be due to the individual players? Yes.

At Barcelona, everyone knows Messi is the best. His teammates speak about it consistently and it is obvious he has a massive influence on the pitch, as big as Johan Cruyff did when he was playing for Barcelona between 1973 and 1978. But what about off the pitch? Obviously Cruyff became Barcelona’s manager in 1988 and his influence was phenomenal, forming the style that Barcelona uses today. But what about Messi?

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It is known Messi has put in transfer requests in the past, asking for Sergio Aguero to join and asking for Neymar back, and they have been made public. But how many have been made behind the scenes? The difference between national team football and club football is that in national football you can pick only from a certain bracket of players with your nation’s citizenship. Club football allows a free range of selections.

For example, when Neymar and Luis Suarez arrived they formed an amazing three-way partnership, and when they managed to string a few games together – after Neymar and Suarez’s injuries kept them from playing together – they struck an amazing collaboration. But they always looked up to Messi and seemed to fit into Messi’s style perfectly. Coincidence?

I am not saying that Messi is in charge of Barcelona or that he is trying to take over; I’m just suggesting a different reason as to why he lacks success with a perfectly decent Argentina. He has a massive reputation and impact on Barcelona.

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There is no doubt that Lionel Messi is a great player, but he has played for only one club throughout his entire professional career, and Argentina has exposed him as potentially needing a certain kind of player or players to make him amazing.

Is Lionel Messi really as good as we think?