It is incredible to think that Lionel Messi is only 25 years old. Having just broken the 40-year-record for total goals scored by an individual in a calendar year, it is easy to forget Messi’s age -- particularly considering that he has broken so many records previously.
In fact, it makes you wonder what more can Messi achieve.
But before looking ahead, let’s just take a look at what the little Argentine has achieved so far. He has already won three Champions Leagues, five La Liga titles, two World Club championships and an Olympic gold medal just for good measure.
Individually, Messi has been awarded the Ballon D’Or for the last three years and he has been the leading scorer in the Champions League for the past four seasons. This season, he became Barcelona’s all-time record goalscorer, again aged just 25. So, the fact that two goals against Real Betis recently saw him surpass Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year should be placed in context as just one of many honours for Messi.
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That is not to take anything away from Messi’s achievement. Skeptics will argue that the German striker Muller, known as ‘Der Bomber’ played in fewer games when he broke the record playing for Bayern Munich. Yet, Messi’s goals have come in the Champions League and La Liga, two of the best footballing competitions on the planet.
Whereas Muller was an out and out goalscorer and a great one at that, there is so much more to Messi’s game than just goals. His movement and creativity are also a joy to watch. Interestingly, the Zambian football authorities have claimed that striker Godfrey Chitalu had scored 107 goals for Kabwe Warriors in 1972, while Brazilian club Flamengo have suggested that legendary player Zico scored 89 goals in 1979. Regardless of how genuine these claims are, Messi’s achievement is simply breathtaking.
So, what of the future? When asked on the touchlines, after breaking the record, “What’s the next challenge?” Messi typically responded with great modesty, “Cordoba,” referring to Barcelona’s next match, a league cup game against second division opposition. In truth, if you are into football or sport betting, then you should simply think of the next record and place a bet on it. In short, time is most definitely on Messi’s side to achieve whatever he wants in the game.
Nonetheless, does this record or any future landmark make Messi the best player ever? In football, the success of a player is measured in trophies and medals. At club level, Messi has already bagged a host of domestic and European titles, playing an integral role in Barcelona’s golden era.
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However, if Messi wants to be remembered as the greatest and not just one of the greats, he will need to win a World Cup, placing him on a par with the likes of compatriot and still Argentina’s best ever, Diego Maradona.