Last weekend at Mallorca, it was business as usual for Lionel Messi as he scored yet another brace to help Barcelona to another key victory in their quest to win La Liga. But this was not just another brace for Messi, but one that allowed him the quite historic achievement of scoring 76 goals (and counting) in a calendar year, beating Pelé’s previous record and only 9 goals behind Muller’s all-time record of 85, with one month and a half still left to play. While quite inevitable for quite some time, this achievement isn’t any less Impressive – to put it in perspective the second and third best scorer of this calendar year, Cristiano Ronaldo and Radamel Falcao, have a distant 59 an 42 goals.
Lionel Messi had yet another truly mesmerizing year, not only with Barcelona but with the Argentina National Team as well. 2012 might well have been the best year of Messi’s career at an individual level – his scoring numbers have been off the charts, but there has been much more to his game. He has also assisted more goals than any other player on the planet but, more importantly, his overall game has only become even more complete than before. His amazing dribbling and ball controls remains the worst nightmare of defenders worldwide and his direct free kicks have actually become world-class, some of the very best in the business. It feels that as the years go by Messi is only becoming a more complete and lethal player, a scary thought. His goal production doesn’t seem about to dry up any time soon and he keeps finding new, more devastating ways to hurt his opponents, further cementing his status as this generation’s undisputed best player.
With one month and a half still left to play in the year, only a very bold man would bet against the Argentine genius beating Muller and setting a new record for goals in a single calendar year on the way to a seemingly inevitable record-breaking fourth consecutive Ballon d’Or come January. Considering that football is the world’s most popular and played sport, now more than ever before, being the best player in the world for four consecutive years is something that simply defies belief and requires an unbelievable amount of talent and consistency. If anything, Messi is a much better player now that when he won the award for the first back in 2009 and has only increased his superiority over the field. Even the common criticism of Messi not stepping up with the Argentine jersey has been put to bed this year, with Messi performing exceptionally in the World Cup qualifiers so far and scoring a total of 12 goals for his National Team during the year, some of them quite fantastic goals. It took time, but he has become as much of a leader for Argentina as he is for Barcelona, maybe even more so as he is the captain of the Albiceleste, exponentially boosting their hopes of winning the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
At 25 years old, Lionel Messi already has one of the very best career resumés even seen in this sport, in terms of numbers, trophies, individual accolades and overall impact on the sport, and his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever kick the ball is pretty much secure. But he’s far from done yet; in fact given his age and constant drive and motivation to reach new heights, his best years might be yet to come – most footballers actually peak at around 26-28. It might be hard to see how Messi can become even better, but then again that has been the case for many years now and the Argentine has kept defying the odds and upping the ante with each passing year. At Barcelona he has the ideal platform to keep taking his game to even more stratospheric heights, in the club where he was raised, where he is loved by everyone and whose philosophy suits him to perfection, not to mention teammates and a team whose ambition to keep improving matches his.
These records Messi has been beating, namely this more recent one, look extremely impressive but you can bet your house that he will keep trying to set even higher benchmarks in the years to come and it’d not come as a surprise in the least bit if he ended up improving on those records. The last few years in football have been dominated by Lionel Messi individually speaking and judging by the Argentine’s recent form and constant quest to keep improving himself, you can fully expect that trend to continue in the years to come, much to the delight of Barcelona fans – Messi’s and Barcelona’s prosperity go hand in hand.