Some people call him "a miracle from God", while others eulogise him with the title of "Alien". Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is an epitome of sheer class who keeps on scoring goals, providing assists, winning trophies for his club and earning individual laurels with his immaculate performances.
His game is so exquisite and fascinating that every time you see him playing, you get ‘Messi-merised’.
He is short, which makes it easy for him to maintain his body balance and supplements his pace, accompanied by the astounding God-gifted skills that he has polished over the years.
His composure and dribbling elevate him to the top of the football world. Unlike Real Madrid ace Christiano Ronaldo who deceives the defenders with his extraordinary footwork, Messi haunts the rivals with his swiftness.
He rarely does stopovers while on the run and keeps the ball rolling with his speed and strides using his left foot spectacularly to fire the ball inside the net, making it toilsome for the opposition players. The most distinguishing characteristic of Messi is that he is a team man. You don’t often find him seeking the goal recklessly when it could be any of his teammate to send the ball home.
He creates chances in tandem with his great passing capabilities and strives for his team’s glory.
Last week he won the Ballon d’Or 2015 award for an unprecedented fifth time. All of them have come for his magnificent stints at Barcelona. He beat his nemesis Ronaldo who had leapfrogged him for the last two honours (2013 and 2014) after Messi’s historic run of four consecutive triumphs (2009-2012).
Messi deserves all the plaudits, but he is yet to prove his credentials in England. He needs to dig in deep and push himself by taking up this strenuous yet exciting challenge of surpassing Ronaldo as the best player in multiple leagues.
It really takes a spine of steel to prove oneself in England. The weather mostly remains cold and the amount of football is much more than the rest of the leagues in the world. Hence, not everyone succeeds in adapting to its competitive environment.
Messi has captured interest, time and again, of different Premier League clubs. And why won’t they want a tenacious player who can inspire them to major titles and write an exalted chapter in their history?
He, however, has pledged allegiance to his childhood club Barcelona, which served as a nursery for him and where he transformed himself from a rookie to one of the most sought-after players.
He has never ruled out moving to any other country, but he has expressed desire to end his career at home (Argentina). This indicates that there is a possibility for giant English clubs to lure him. Messi had been linked with Arsenal, as it is contemplated that the Emirates would suit him the most in England since the playing style of Arsenal is somewhat similar to that of Barcelona. Also, he has been regarded as the ideal selection to play alongside his Argentinean teammate Sergio Aguero at Manchester City.
There are many football pundits who consider Ronaldo the greatest player of this generation -- one significant reason being that he has played in England, outwitted every other player and clinched the Ballon d’Or award for Manchester United in 2008 -- which is a rare honour to achieve in England.
His six-year stay at Old Trafford was a memorable one during which they won three Premier League titles and the prestigious UEFA Champions League.
Ronaldo’s outstanding feat must induce Messi to try his luck in England by spending at least three seasons there and prove his worth. Although both have always played down their rivalry, they have brought out the best in each other.
The paramount factor which keeps players at bay from joining English Premier League has been its competitiveness. Many who had excelled in Europe or elsewhere failed to come out on top in EPL, leaving them with utter disappointment and eventual transfers. If you have made up your mind to play for an English club, you ought to remember that you might not even get time to see your family abroad -- it’s about football, football and non-stop football.
The advancement in technical and tactical standards has made the game ever more hectic and aggressive.
Messi should have the ambition to challenge himself in an intrinsically dynamic environment which is contrary to his particular brand of football.
Moreover, in other leagues around the world, the top two to three teams lock horns for the title because the competition is limited. In Spain, it’s between Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund clash for the crown in Germany.
In England, one week a title contender demolishes another favourite and the week after it is humbled by a bottom-ranked club. That’s the beauty of English football. Cash-rich owners are always ready to splash their money on big signings as there is a huge return for them when their teams stand out.
Media would heap praise on a player over a satisfactory display, but would also grill the team over dismal performances. There is unparallel pressure and expectations from crazy fans that many players fail to cope with, resulting in a blemished EPL career.
In Spain, Messi has been a big fish in a small pond. To dispel any doubts, he needs to come out of his comfort zone and embrace the ever-challenging and riveting experience of English football for his true value to be acknowledged.
Two years younger than Ronaldo, he still has time to silence his detractors. Emulating the great Diego Maradona by accepting new challenges, who didn’t just steer Argentina to the World Cup grandeur, but also guided the struggling Italian side Napoli to major victories, will also chisel Messi’s name in the list of mettlesome players.