Lionel Messi, the Argentine and FC Barcelona forward, is the best soccer player in the world. He won the World Player of the Year award in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and last weekend made another great stride toward becoming the best player of all time.
After scoring his 75th and 76th goals of the year on Sunday, Leo passed Pelé for second-most goals scored in a year. With 27 games left in the La Liga season, not to mention Copa del Rey, Champion’s League and national team games, Messi needs only 10 more goals to surpass Gerd Mueller’s record of 85 goals in a single year.
Messi is not only expected to beat the record, but I would be thoroughly shocked if he does not absolutely abuse it. After setting a La Liga record for goals scored last season with 50, he is on pace to tie or break his own record this season. This means he will likely score over 100 goals just with Barcelona season games this calendar year. Including playoffs games, various tournaments and his national contests, Messi could score upwards of 110 or 120 goals this season.
To put this in perspective, Wilt averaged 50.4 points per game in the 1962 NBA season. What Messi is doing right now is equivalent to someone averaging 75 points per game in an entire NBA season. It is like someone crushing Barry Bonds’ record of 73 home runs in a season by hitting 90 or 100. Or someone rushing for 40 touchdowns and beating LaDanian Tomlinson’s record of 28 touchdowns in a season. These numbers are astronomical. They are unheard of. Unbelievable.
Many soccer fans still want to believe Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the world. Ronaldo, who plays for Barcelona’s rival, Real Madrid, is undeniably an elite goal scorer, and there is no doubt he is one of the top players in the world. He has the speed, strength and shot to score almost 50 goals in a La Liga season. However, Ronaldo is widely known for his whiny attitude and inability to succeed for his country, Portugal, which the fans perceive as immature and selfish. More of a power player than Messi, I think I can speak on behalf of all Madridistas when I say that Messi is the best in the world, by far. Messi’s ability to navigate through defenses and set up his teammates, in addition to his knack for scoring goals all prove that he is second to none.
Messi’s statistics this year, and through the entirety of his career so far have to put him in the conversation for greatest player of all time. The 25-year-old striker has plenty of great years left to add on to his already spectacular feats, and there is no chance he gets slowed down.