Date:Monday March 22 2010
It is one of those exhausting subjects which inevitably come up when the talk is about football these days: who is the best player in the world? Is Rooney as good as Messi, which one is better?
These comparisons are soooo tedious, for a number of reasons. First, both are brilliant footballers. Second, they are completely different kind of players, with different upbringing, different styles, different strengths. It's very difficult to compare them.
But the most important reason why it's foolish to keep comparing them is that while I love Rooney and he's world-class, a truly wonderful footballer, he's not Messi. Nobody is on a par with Messi right now, NOBODY.
Cristiano Ronaldo outperformed him in 06/07 and 07/08 because Messi was injured a lot and played in an inferior team (oh yes, that Barcelona side was inferior to United, not in terms of player quality but because of the lack of unity, because of their staleness). Ronaldo is a bloody brilliant player, an unbelievable, incredible goal machine but he's not Leo Messi.
Quite simply, nobody in world football has the natural talent of Leo Messi. Nobody. Yesterday he destroyed Real Zaragoza on his own, scoring 8 goals in three games, two consecutive hat-tricks in the league and not tap-ins or opportunistic finishes, the hallmarks of a quality centre-forward, no: he just dumps defenders on their backsides regularly with his astonishing dribbling, pace, close control and outworldly balance. He can shoot, he's got magnificent composure in one-on-ones, he's got everything.
Yes, he's a better footballer than Wayne Rooney. There's no shame in that for Wayne. You can be massively inferior to Lionel Messi and still be a world-class player. Because, I'll say it again, nobody can match his natural talent. Nobody. Ronaldo achieved a lot through his own outrageous talent and even more sheer hard work but he's still not Messi.
Comparing Messi to Maradona is unjustified, too: he's a much more likeable professional who already achieved more in the club game than Maradona. Yes, he can be stopped, sometimes. But how? Chelsea demonstrated it: doubling and tripling up on him, hoping that he has an off-day and also praying that his teammates won't punish you for focusing on Messi. It's no coincidence that even against 10 men, Chelsea could not get out of their own half in last season's CL semi: they did not dare to go forward.
Obviously I do not want to belittle Rooney or Ronaldo, it's just that Messi is on a different level to everyone else. At least that's my opinion.
Date:Monday March 22 2010
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