Lionel Messi’s record speaks for itself. If there’s one footballer who doesn’t need to sell himself, it’s Leo. His excellence doesn’t require cheerleaders or marketing firms convincing football fans of his magic. The Argentinian is arguably the world’s best player at the moment, if not ever.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, his teammates agree. Only a day ago Andres Iniesta said, “Leo Messi is the No 1 in the world. Messi is the best not only for his goals but for his game in general.” Gerard Pique also added his two cents saying Ronaldo is the best player among humans but Messi is from another planet.
Now, by no means do these comments diminish Messi’s accomplishments, but the constant stream of predictable comments from the Catalans reveals less about Messi and more about his teammates’s partiality.
Lately there’s been a surge of them, perhaps because awards season is in full swing.
But Messi is not an underrated player in need of attention. He’s not a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. He doesn’t need the likes of his teammates reminding the world of his sublime football skills. He doesn’t even have to prove anything to anyone because his numbers and achievements are tangibles and can stand independently. The world already knows how great he is. It’s an established fact.
Yet his Barcelona teammates can’t or won’t stop praising him to media.
In all fairness, they’re not the only ones that shower him with deserving compliments. Wenger, De Boer and Ferguson also echo these sentiments, yet praise from outsiders is always appreciated over those from your inner circle.
It’s fine to express your unconditional support and adoration for a player, especially your teammate, but there comes a point when your own personal bias is better left unsaid. If it weren’t for Messi’s numbers, these comments would have little substance.
And really Iniesta? We get it. You both played together since the days of La Masia. Did we really expect you to shock the world and favour Ronaldo?
Undeniably, Barcelona players aren’t alone in their bias. One could argue that Real Madrid is guilty of it too. Pepe, for example, hails Ronaldo as the best player in the world. It also comes as no surprise to hear Jose Mourinho’s thoughts on the issue.
“I think it should be forbidden to say who [is] the best player in the world because these two are from another planet,” Mourinho said. “I would like my player to win [the Ballon d'Or] because he is champion of the best league in the world, but I think they’re both fantastic players.”
Regardless of where a player’s allegiance lies, it’s best if they spare themselves the embarrassment. Because their comments are starting to sound increasingly like a proclamation of love and an extension of the El Clasico derby in the form of press quotes.
Still, in the “praising Messi” stakes, I believe Sid Lowe in The Guardian said it best…
Yet what the consistency of [Messi's] brilliance actually achieves much of the time is to make the extraordinary routine. Just another wonderful Messi goal: like walking past a thousand-year old ruin in Rome that, picked up and placed in Milton Keynes would have them rushing from miles around, and in the Eternal City hardly even gets noticed.
Even so, chances are FIFA will notice, and without the help of Messi’s Barcelona teammates…