TheSportsRush takes a look at whether Messi deserve to be in FIFA shortlist for ‘The Best’, which was announced yesterday.
FIFA announced the three-man shortlist who will be competing for ‘The Best’ award on September 15. One of the notable absentees from the shortlist was Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, who failed to make into top-three for the first time since 2006. Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or (as it was called before France Football and FIFA terminated the joint award in 2015) on five occasions. Earlier this year, Messi failed to make the three-player shortlist for UEFA Player of the Year as well, where Luka Modric won the award.
Lionel Messi was central to Barcelona’s terrific domestic season, where they cruised through the La Liga victory with only one loss in the campaign. Barca also completed the domestic double, winning the Copa Del Rey, their fourth in a row. And so, Messi’s snub from the three-player nomination does seem a little unjust.
Did Messi deserve to be running for the FIFA The Best? Let’s take a look through his stats.
Neymar left Barcelona last season in the most expensive transfer deal in football. Ousmane Dembele, Barca’s new signing, suffered an injury early into the season, and continued to struggle with form, and so did Luis Suarez in front of the goal. In the midst of Barcelona’s attacking-crisis, Lionel Messi led Barca in the midfield, and executed the job as their main goalscoring forward. The Argentine international pulled out the challenge to perfection, scoring 34 La Liga goals, 8 more than the second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo.
He led the assist-chart in Spain’s top flight (12), a record which he shared with Pablo Fornals of Villareal and fellow teammate Luis Suarez.
Leading the La Liga stats tallies:
Apart from being the top goal-scorer in La Liga, Messi also held the record for most chances created in the league. He made 86 chances for his teammates throughout the season, almost 2.3 per match. He also completed the most take-ons (185), and scored most goals on free kick (6) and from outside the box (8).
Looking over stats, however, one of the biggest achievements of Lionel Messi is his ability to guide Barca to silverware last season. The Argentine has been Barcelona’s best player since long, but his decisive and influential presence in the club’s game-play in the recent years has made him all-the-more important. Whenever Barcelona needed goals, he stepped up at the front. When Barca cried for creativity in the middle, he dropped back to help create chances through a string of short-passes.
In the last season, Luis Suarez’s absence in the first half of 2017/18 seemed disastrous at the time. Messi, however, drilled in 9 goals in 3 games, including four against Eibar to keep the winning run intact. Messi’s goal made the sole difference through a terrific free-kick in the potential title-decider between Barca and Atletico Madrid in April. So much was his impact on the match that rival coach Diego Simeone said, “If Messi had been playing on our side, we would have won.”
Messi failed with Argentina in the World Cup, however, as the South American bowed out in the round-of-16 to eventual champions, France. It is hard to segregate the team with the player in football, but given certain insufficiencies of talents in both, his club and country, Messi’s contribution has been invaluable. In all the capacity of this award to be deserving to an individual in a team sport, Messi’s performance is hard to go unnoticed.