Lionel Messi is wreaking all kind
of havoc for Barcelona at the moment, leading his admirers at the club to claim
he may already be better than Maradona and Cruyff at their peak. Ha!
As talented as the 22-year-old
Argentine may be he hasn’t produced at international level yet. Messi’s critics
are always bringing that topic up and they’ve got a point.
Maradona, Cruyff, Pele…et al, all
made a significant difference to their respective sides. Many believe Maradona
was greater than Pele because he turned an ordinary side into world beaters. I
don’t subscribe to that because Pele stood out for Brazil in some of the
greatest sides that have ever graced a football pitch.
Messi is nowhere near that
influential at international level. He hates the pressure of high expectations
but that is the nature of the beast.
At his tender age he is still
improving, judging by his latest hat-trick on Sunday for Barcelona, but as the
world’s no.1 Messi must produce fabulous performances at international level
otherwise Argentina’s World Cup aspirations will be low even though their media
and fans will insist on nothing less than bringing the trophy home.
“To be a legend, one needs to
win a World Cup,” Messi told El Mundo this week. “I am 22
years old. Everything is happening very quickly and I have to be calm.”
At least Messi has already won more
major club cups and titles than Maradona did in his whole career. Maradona,
Argentina’s mercurial coach, must somehow get the best out of Messi and also
find a formula to appease ridiculous expectations.
Messi is an exceptional player,
much better than Ronaldo, Rooney and Fabregas at the moment, but as for being a
legend, only time will tell.