Lionel Messi was the best thing about Barcelona this afternoon (it was afternoon in my part of the world). Every time he touched the ball, he put the Man Utd defender to the sword. The only thing that prevented him from scoring a goal was the fact that the central defenders were there to protect the wing defender. Well, that and Edwin van der Sar is 6’5″ tall. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. van der Sar, for having such a tall son. I, for one, am deeply grateful for your genes.
But that’s not the point. The point is to appreciate the sheer artistry of Leo Messi. He moves so effortlessly with the ball, as if it’s attached to his feet with a string. His passes reflect that, too. Everything from long crosses to elegant little flick-ons are exquisite. This is, clearly, a reflection of his intelligence. The best example I can think of off the top of my head comes not from soccer, but from hockey. It’s Wayne Gretzky, who had a way about him to see what was happening and, more importantly, what was going to happen. Messi possesses that same gift.
Before I go on, check this out. No, seriously. I’ll wait.
Okay, done? Good. Wasn’t that breathtaking? The sickest part? He doesn’t turn 21 until June. The second most sickest part? He rises to the occasion in big games. Today, he was one of two players who showed up, like, really showed up, for Barcelona (the other was Zambrotta, who put the clamps down on CRonaldo for most of the match). Messi was thriving. This is a good sign for Barcelona. And it most assuredly puts the kibosh on that stupid transfer idea of Ibrahimovic for Messi, straight up.
He has the skills to be one of the greats of the game already. Playing five more years at his current level will assure him of all-time great status. But he’ll play more than that because he’s improving every year. I’m not one for hyperbole but I think Messi has lived up to his hype and will continue to live up to his hype. I look forward to watching him for years to come.