What more can be said about Lionel Messi?

By Rhys Hayward
Lionel messi When the world appears to have collectively run out of superlatives what more can you say about him?
Lionel messi

Lionel Messi (Photo: Tsutomu Takasu)

When the world appears to have collectively run out of superlatives what more can you say about Lionel Messi?

A four goal haul, his fourth hat-trick of 2010, dumped Arsenal emphatically out of the Champions League at a mesmerised Camp Nou last night.

Arsène Wenger, one of football’s most articulate spokesmen, was reduced to the kind of base exultation most football fans use for the diminutive Argentinean.

“Messi is the best player in the world by a distance,” said the Frenchman.

Without starting up a pointless debate on the vagaries of the ‘Best player in the world,’ tag, Messi is currently in awe-inspiring form.

Last night’s goals took his tally for the season to an astonishing 39, already one more than his total during last season’s treble winning campaign.

But it is the manner of the goals, as well as they way he lights up a football pitch, which has everyone involved in the game purring.

Pep Guardiola, himself a legend at the famous Catalan club, already considers Messi among the finest players in Barcelona’€™s history at the tender age of 22.

And Patrick Barclay, the Chief Football Correspondent of The Times this morning insists that Messi will be remembered alongside Pele and Maradona as the game’s finest ever players.

Hopefully not.

Messi has enough time on his side and enough ability to leapfrog both those names and occupy his own Bradmanesque pedestal as the undisputed greatest.

This summer’s World Cup is being cited as the real benchmark of Messi’s current stature and his struggles as the rudder of a disjointed Argentinean team are well documented.

His Barcelona team-mates Xavi and Iniesta may yet take the spoils in South Africa but Messi could potentially play in three or four more World Cup’s.

It seems inevitable that at some stage he will have his Maradona moment and until then we can rest assured his efforts for Barcelona will continue to enchant on a weekly basis.

The growth hormone treatment he endured in his youth and numerous thigh injuries which plagued his early career may also come back to haunt him.

But Messi looks set to pass 50 games in a season for the second year running and thanks to some careful game management he is peaking at the perfect time in the season.

So whilst this might feel like the peak, it could simply be the beginning and that is a stunning thought.

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