Messi can claim to be the GOAT

Messi’s failure to win the sport’s top prize has been held against him when weighing his achievements against Pele and Maradona. So did Ronaldo.


Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for the best player in the world seven times and has won club football’s highest award, the Champions League, four times. At last year’s Copa America, he ended the wait for the national team’s first major trophy.

However, the World Cup is the ultimate measure of greatness and Pele and Maradona were immortalized on that stage with inspiring performances.

Messi has been oblivious to this – until now.

He was part of the Argentina squad that lost 1-0 to Germany in the 2014 final, but the magic he wrought during his prime at Barcelona never seemed to translate while wearing his country’s blue and white stripes.

The 35-year-old is coming to the end of his career and the game in Qatar is widely regarded as his final World Cup effort. If so, he saved the best for last.

Instead of dominating the 90 minutes, Messi decided games with moments of genius. He scored seven goals for Qatar but, arguably, his assists were more memorable.

His disguised pass for Nahuel Molina’s goal against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals was weighed and measured to perfection. His turn and run to beat Croatian defender Josko Gvadio and set up team-mate Julian Alvarez in the semi-final felt like Messi in his prime, only in slow motion.

He has now surpassed Pele with 13 goals at the World Cup and is tied with Just Fontaine for fourth all-time. His seven goals in this year’s tournament surpassed Maradona’s five goals in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Messi has now scored 98 goals in 172 games, a national team record. That puts him third on the all-time scoring list for the men’s national team behind Cristiano Ronaldo (118) and Ali Daei (109).

There is a sense of destiny between Messi and Argentina.

Associated Press

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