Lionel Messi, GOAT?

delaurentis

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With Messi's eighth 'Ballon d'Or' victory, the media regards Messi as the greatest footballer in history.
I'm interested to hear the opinions of FIF on whether Messi truly is the 'GOAT'.

Do you believe Messi is the greatest footballer of all time? Please elaborate on your reasons for or against this claim.
 

delaurentis

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Let me start:

In my view, Lionel Messi has one of the best statistical careers in football history, yet I do not regard him as the greatest player of all time. The football landscape differs significantly from the past, characterized by a widening gap in competitiveness, which has led to inflated individual player statistics.
And I also believe it is difficult to compare players across different generations. To make such comparisons, one must consider their respective impacts. In my view, Diego Maradona for ex. had a more profound impact than Messi.

Messi had the privilege of playing with one of the finest midfield partnerships (Xavi, Iniesta) in history. Even in his absence, this partnership continued to dominate international football, winning both a World Cup and a European Championship.

The popular narrative that Messi single-handedly dominated the World Cup is one I disagree with. Argentina benefited from substantial support and assistance during their games. I see no iconic moments where Messi stood out.

Furthermore, Messi seems to receive favorable treatment in the media, with certain incidents like tax evasion and the incident involving Maicon's teeth being knocked out downplayed or forgotten. It appears as though he can do no wrong in the eyes of many.
 

brehme1989

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Depends on how you evaluate, but Messi has the highest score from all when you consider talent, prime duration, peak quality, overall effect, accolades and trophies.

If you're asking me if Messi growing up in the 70s and playing in the 80s and early 90s could be Maradona, then no, Messi would not be the player he is now, he'd be no Maradona and who knows, maybe after the first tackle over the knee in a horrible pitch he gives up football altogether...


Problem is when you want to quantify things and don't look at the actual game (I'm looking at you freaking Americans for infesting all sport convo with this), you cannot have any discussion.

If you're asking me who the top 10 players I've seen are, then Messi is on that list.
As is Ronaldo, Baggio, Michael Laudrup and several others that I may consider there such as Totti or Zidane. But then you ask, why not Paolo Maldini as well? And how about GKs and center backs?

It's a nice discussion as long as people are willing to do it.
Shouting 8 golden balls and whatever other team achievements and not accepting any other view is stupid and shouldn't even be coming to someone's mind.
Some of the best players of their country or in the world in the 70s and 80s never won anything significant, or anything. No one cared.
 

NimAraya

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I usually avoid engaging in such topics because at the end it all becomes a mix of personal preferences and shady comparisons between the players of different eras and different positions which end up making debatable conclusions. In short I believe that Messi is the goat, for his football skills, stats, achievements and longevity (compared to the others greats like Maradona, The real Ronaldo, Ronaldinho...).

This whole "win the match singlehandely" is something which I find ridiculous being used in a team sport. And it's hardly ever used for defenders and GKs, whom play a crucial role helping the others winning the spotlight. No player can win it all by himself without a good coached team, good teammates and good chemisty. This statement just need to be stopped being used for a football player. The greatness of a certain player don't need to be explained by such nonsensical statements.

And those who want to find a hole in downgrading a player would always find something to do it. That's why I won't bother engaging in such debates. It's tiresome and I don't have any drive for trying to change the mind of someone who already made up his/her mind about something/someone.
 

PlaymakerX

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I usually avoid engaging in such topics because at the end it all becomes a mix of personal preferences and shady comparisons between the players of different eras and different positions which end up making debatable conclusions. In short I believe that Messi is the goat, for his football skills, stats, achievements and longevity (compared to the others greats like Maradona, The real Ronaldo, Ronaldinho...).

This whole "win the match singlehandely" is something which I find ridiculous being used in a team sport. And it's hardly ever used for defenders and GKs, whom play a crucial role helping the others winning the spotlight. No player can win it all by himself without a good coached team, good teammates and good chemisty. This statement just need to be stopped being used for a football player. The greatness of a certain player don't need to be explained by such nonsensical statements.

And those who want to find a hole in downgrading a player would always find something to do it. That's why I won't bother engaging in such debates. It's tiresome and I don't have any drive for trying to change the mind of someone who already made up his/her mind about something/someone.
I totally agree on that. As football evolves, team strength has become more and more important over what an individual can bring. The narrative of someone winning the match singlehandedly is seriously misleading in this context. From time to time, when comparing different players from different teams, we can see fans of these players devalue their teams and teammates, make them look like a piece of crap and then jump to the conclusion that 'since his team sucks more, and his teammates are less capable, he is better than..'. This is against the spirit of football, which is essentially based on teamwork. As a player, you can be great while appreciating your teammates' talents, efforts and contributions. My username came from the belief that everyone on the field can be a playmaker and have substantial impact on the game, instead of 10 ppl carry the piano and 1 plays. At the end of the day, isn't great players usually defined as making their teammates better? And further to this, great players and great teams make each other what they are.
Some media, and fans too, like to picture Messi as the one picking the cherries by standing on teammates' shoulders. This statement simply ignores the fact that he has gone through a lot of hard time struggling with incapable coaches, corrupted management and poorly organized team, even his late years in Barcelona. Before this world cup, on paper, Argentina really didn't look so promising and was ranked only 10th by the winning odds. 1698765373708.png

But look at the chemistry they built around Messi on and off the pitch. Their performance was just beautiful. Among these, Messi scored the opener against Mexico when they were under the pressure of going home. And from then on, his goals and assists wouldn't stop. To me, this is the most heroic journey I've seen in world cup.
Back to the topic, I have huge respect for Maradona as a footballer, and in the past I had doubts about Messi's leadership too. The doubts about his leadership probably all came from the fact that he's an introverted person, and would rather be a silent leader (kinda like Zanetti), doing everything he can for the team instead of talking. But you should watch his speech during Copa America. That is a clear example of leadership. This change in the last phase of his career is not a change of personality, but rather that he feels it's necessary to influence more proactively and verbally the immature teammates around him, young fellas in the squad who have less experience and might easily get nervous or stressed out.
 

Besnik

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Messi is one spoiled rat. Nobody is denying his quality and reputation as one of the greatest players ever, but some of the awards he won and also the lattest WC with Argentina are beyond pathetic. I'm not even on this CR vs Messi bullshit that has taken over internet for a while now, but the way world of football has spoiled Messi is a shame. But then again, do people still care about these awards that are rigged af?
 

FCBarca

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There's been no athlete like him in any sport IMHO. To think even in the twilight of his career he remains a difference maker is a testament to the relentless consistency he has had since 16 and first playing as a senior footballer in Europe. No one has even come close to this era of dominance. At his peak, he was unstoppable without fouling him over & over coupled with a compliant referee. Moreover, he continued to add elements to his game in a way you rarely see in the top athletes - in the beginning few would mention his fks but now it's clear there is no one like him taking them

I also take exception to the notion that he wouldn't thrive in any era or lose motivation, the kid became what he is today precisely due to his unparalleled ambition to dominate. When you see his clips at 5 years of age, you see a player who was born to play football

His left foot & vision, I just have never seen anyone who can evoke joy & find solutions so consistently - particularly in the biggest matches

When I used to be an avid fan of hoops, I remember that even the best NBA teams suffered from complacency - the 'Neymar effect' if you will. Most plateau or implode but winning & team play is not something you even often see from the very best athletes as they are too busy looking for the limelight (ahem, CR). Then to continue that dominance for 16+ seasons? It's unprecedented

You see it today, there are no dribblers or creative forces that even come close to Xavi or Iniesta much less Leo. By just about any metric, he sits alone in terms of comparisons. I always say, he should just be enjoyed because we will never see anything like him again in our lifetime
 

bubba zanetti

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He didnt deserve minimum two golden balls that he won. Its a rigged, it so fucking obvious. So, he was great in WC, won it and thats why he won golden ball. But in 2010 he was in same spot as Haland this season(great in club competition, sucked in WC, plus didnt won CL like Haland) and guess what, he won it, not Iniesta who had phenomenal season and WC and won it. Talk about criterium. Personally, he is not greatest ever, I dont care about his crazy statistics, did watch prime Maradona and R9, best players I ever watched. In Maradona time he wouldnt be protected by refs, no way. But better that Cr7, definitely yes.
 

brakbrak

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Italy?

IRRC Argentina was one of the top 3 favourites to win the WC.
Yea, not sure where he got the screenshot, but it was pretty similar across all betting sites that Brazil,Argentina,France and England were the top contenders.
 

brehme1989

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He didnt deserve minimum two golden balls that he won. Its a rigged, it so fucking obvious.

These things don't really matter.
Such a stupid award and it just creates stupid talks.

Like what you get, sorry again for grouping y'all together but it's too easy, with US American sports.
Team wins the NBA championship and everyone is like "best team ever", or how they cannot contemplate how a team that didn't win in their season may be better than a team that actually did win. As if it's inconceivable that the level is not different between seasons.


We're not fully there yet, but I can see people claiming that peak Zidane was 1998 because he won the Golden Ball and the World Cup, as if he was a big participant of the World Cup aside from the final where he scored two relatively rare headers.
Then Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or in 2002, just because he was great at the World Cup. He hardly had a decent start with Real Madrid in the 2002 calendar year. He played in like 2 CL games and less than 10 league games. And he didn't play more than that with Inter. He was robbed of the 1998 award but was handed the 2002 one.


So, he was great in WC, won it and thats why he won golden ball. But in 2010 he was in same spot as Haland this season(great in club competition, sucked in WC, plus didnt won CL like Haland) and guess what, he won it, not Iniesta who had phenomenal season and WC and won it. Talk about criterium. Personally, he is not greatest ever, I dont care about his crazy statistics, did watch prime Maradona and R9, best players I ever watched. In Maradona time he wouldnt be protected by refs, no way. But better that Cr7, definitely yes.

While I get where you're going with this and why, Messi still feels legendary and we should indeed appreciate him.

But as I said many times, he's effectively Roberto Baggio with 2 full working knees rather than a half between both legs.

Top 10 offensive players we've seen since the early 90s - I'll exclude Maradona - at least that comes to mind now, because if you ask me tomorrow I may shuffle it a bit:
- Ronaldo
- Roberto Baggio
- Leo Messi
- Michael Laudrup
- Francesco Totti
- Zinedine Zidane
- Romario
- Robert Prosinecki
- Hristo Stoichkov
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Obviously there's definitely others that one could name here, such as Luis Figo, Ruud Gullit, Dejan Savicevic, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Luka Modric, Iniesta, Zvonimir Boban, Kaka or some strikers like Batistuta, Shevchenko, van Basten, Eto'o, Adriano, Lewandowski, Benzema, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo or some wizards like Dragan Stojkovic, Gheorghe Hagi, Roberto Mancini, Eden Hazard, Arjen Robben etc... I know I mentioned like 50 guys here and that's not throwing out an unofficial top 50 list, just thinking some names out loud :D That's just attacking players, I haven't gone through defenders or... restrained midfielders.

Recoba also had the talent to be there but not the head or body. If I pick on talent and potential based on what we've seen and not just a what-if (think Balotelli), then Recoba definitely has produced something amongst the best we've ever witnessed.

Gary Lineker said it in a way that I think most football fans can relate with. Messi brings joy. And that's what others before him brought. Whereas Cristiano is just a me, me, me character that got glorified when he started chasing records as part of one of the most stacked teams of all time and his main job was to chase the ball around the net. A luxury Filippo Inzaghi if I may.

Talent will always look better than a product hard work. Some people like effectiveness and looking at stat sheets, others wants to see moments of brilliance. There's a reason one is called brilliance though. It's shining more than anything else.


If I had to pick a top 5, I'd definitely put Messi there. But if you want me to pick just 1 who I'll take to save my life in a game, I cannot really say that's the guy I'm picking. That's probably Maradona. If I wanna take my chances and have some fun in the way, it's Ronaldo.
 

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He didnt deserve minimum two golden balls that he won. Its a rigged, it so fucking obvious. So, he was great in WC, won it and thats why he won golden ball. But in 2010 he was in same spot as Haland this season(great in club competition, sucked in WC, plus didnt won CL like Haland) and guess what, he won it, not Iniesta who had phenomenal season and WC and won it. Talk about criterium. Personally, he is not greatest ever, I dont care about his crazy statistics, did watch prime Maradona and R9, best players I ever watched. In Maradona time he wouldnt be protected by refs, no way. But better that Cr7, definitely yes.

WC, and international football in general, matters only when it fits them. I had posted this two years ago.

Don't try to make sense with Ballon d'Or awards. It's pointless. There are no fixed criteria. International football matters only when it fits them. It didn't matter in 2010 when other players had a much better tournament than Messi. It didn't matter in 2012 when Spain won it with an outstanding Iniesta. It didn't matter in 2014 when Germany won World Cup with a phenomenal Neuer. But it matters now. Suddenly Copa America became a prestigious trophy but no one cared about it when Alexis and Vidal won it twice with Chile.
 

delaurentis

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^I agree Drago

Look, Messi's greatness is undeniable (his longetivity, trophies, individual skill,...you name it), but the clear commercial push of promoting him as the GOAT is apparent.
As we all know, Football is a big industry, and Messi is a big player in that world. Putting two and two together, it's clear that both are highly profitable.
Ballon d'Or is an extension of that commercialisation.
 

Ethor

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Greatest of all time? Well, that just a Media thing. J,S, Bach the greatest of all time? Rolling Stones or The Beatles GOAT? Tom Brady GOAT?
Same thing, gives sports talking heads something to blab about ad nauseum and people in bars during commercials. I really don't know. He's great, but so are a bunch of others that some of you have mentioned above. Hell, I never saw Pele or Maradona in their prime to compare. Pointless really, given the long history and different eras in football as well as other sports. Maybe, just maybe, we'll be around to see the new GOAT label bestowed on someone else. Cheers.
 

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Messi did almost singlehandedly dragged Argentina far in the World Cup...in the previous World Cup. Y/N? What do you guys say?
 

Bergpavian

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Messi did almost singlehandedly dragged Argentina far in the World Cup...in the previous World Cup. Y/N? What do you guys say?

I think you mean 2014. And I think in that WC Di María was also a major factor.
 

brehme1989

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Messi did almost singlehandedly dragged Argentina far in the World Cup...in the previous World Cup. Y/N? What do you guys say?
Argentina has been such a weird NT

They rarely used their best players just to accommodate some eccentric players or they had coaches with odd perceptions and... lucky charms or just peculiar decision making.

For example Crespo was the most in form striker in the world in 2002, also at international level, yet Batistuta was preferred over him because he was chasing a record and it was his last World Cup.

And because 1994 and 1998 when they had one of the best teams, they fucked it up. Maradona's best Argentina team was 94 but that controversy just ruined everything for them.
Weird Wolrd Cup with 24 teams, Bulgaria beat them and Argentina was ranked 1st from 3rd placed teams and Italy who faced group winners Nigeria were the last entrant from the 3rd placed teams.
So had they won the group by beating Bulgaria, it wouldn't have been Argentina vs Italy. They'd probably face Russia and Bulgaria would have been eliminated instead of reaching semis.
Then they'd face Spain and eventually we'd have a Brazil vs Argentina final in 1994.

1998 was just bad concentration at a brief moment vs a strong Dutch team.

2002 was Bielsa fucking it up. Potentially their best roster of all time.

2006 Pekerman had a great side and decided to fuck it up. No Zanetti and several other major fuck ups, yet still looked like it was their to lose.

2010 just terrible

2014 the beginning of the MESSIanism. It was all about Messi and everyone just watched. The team was relegated to follow his steps and he did step up to an extent. But this is a generation that grew up with him and couldn't really coexist because of the whole God thing. Way too timid for such characterizations.
In both 2014 and 2018 the whole team had the world weight at their shoulders and it showed. 2018 was quite awful of course.

2022 wasn't better than any team before, but all stars aligned and Messi got this World Cup in his last attempt. You can argue that it was rigged, as everyone always does with these tournaments.

Did Messi carry this team in WC22? I'd say yes.
This was the worst Argentina team during Messi's time in terms of roster but they broke the curse by winning the Copa America the year before so they finally had confidence. They didn't clash because everyone also played for Messi for the first time ever, rather than feel they were obligated to defer to him and relegate themselves to that.

It'd be interesting to see how Argentina goes without Messi since this generation has been extremely reliant on him and there's no exceptional talent out there to compensate. Not in one person but not in five combined either. Don't think Argentina was ever in such position...
 

Bergpavian

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2002 was Bielsa fucking it up. Potentially their best roster of all time.

When you look at that team this result was a lot worse than Italy in 2010 or Germany in the last two WC.

You just have to look at Argentina's performances in the Copa: It failed to win one of 40 tournaments from 1995 to 2021 although they made it to the final pretty often.
 
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varmin

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Messi did almost singlehandedly dragged Argentina far in the World Cup...in the previous World Cup. Y/N? What do you guys say?
Who cares? And if this is decisive factor (which is not), the 2010 award should have gone to Sneijder or Iniesta at least.
In addition: Between 2010 and 2015, in an agreement with FIFA, the award was temporarily merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year (founded in 1991) and known as the FIFA Ballon d'Or. That partnership ended in 2016, and the award reverted to the Ballon d'Or, while FIFA also reverted to its own separate annual award The Best FIFA Men's Player.
World cup is a Fifa tournament.

Ballon D'or is a individual award, which should be given to the best player for the past season, not the most popular. This wasn't Messi, so there are zero reasons why he got it at the end.
 

brehme1989

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When you look at that team this was a lot worse than Italy in 2010 or Germany in the last two WC.

You just have to look at Argentina's performances in the Copa: It failed to win one of 40 tournaments from 1995 to 2021 although they made it to the final pretty often.
2002 was actually amazing on paper and they still went without Riquelme, Palermo and a few others.

Favorites iirc were France (lol) and Argentina was 2nd.

Copa America, apart from 97(?) they only lost to Brazil. And they didn't play in 2001 which imo they'd finally win because their team was threatened.
 
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