Messi is a great player. He has great ball skills, he has great hunger for goals and his vision is unparalleled. BUT he does not deserve the Ballon D’Or for 2012 nor did he deserve it for 2010. There has been recent reports where people have heaped praise on the four time Ballon D’Or winner and have called him a true great of our era. Most recently such a report was published by BBC sport. I am an avid fan of BBC but on this occasion I believe they failed miserably. Calling a player great because he has won the Ballon D’Or is something like making Beckham the King of England because he has won many premier league titles. That is their profession. They are (/were for Beckham and even that has too many question marks) the best in their profession but they are not great. In club football they are professionals, they get paid, that is their job. Do you expect to be given a knighthood simply because you are a good manager at some company. I believe Messi is far from being great.
I do not think Messi deserved the award this year nor in 2010. I believe Andres Iniesta should have won both times. I feel sorry for Iniesta, here is a player that won the World Cup for his country, the Euro Cup for his country and is without doubt an extremely important part of Barcelona. Yet because one player scores more goals he is given the “highest” honor in football. Here I have written highest in quotes because I do not think the Ballon D’Or is the highest honor. I think only the World Cup deserves that honor and the simple matter is that Messi has been able to do nothing at the greatest stage of world football. At the biggest human sporting event Messi is an utter failure. Some would say he still has time, that he shall as yet surpass his great countryman – Diego Maradona. Those who remember the 1986 world cup will tell you that Maradona single handedly dragged Argentina to victory. Surely his hand had a part to play but few can argue the brilliance of the second goal in the semis and of his quality at large. Messi will do no such handed goal, but I also do not think he will win the world cup.
WHY? Look at every winner, one thing is common among all – the drive to win, the drive to never give up. Even Barcelona has this ideal, still somehow this character goes missing in Messi when he goes out captaining Argentina. As soon as Argentina starts to get frustrated Messi will try to turn on his bag of tricks. All of that is fine as long as the referee is protective of the attacking players, as referees often are in the Americas and in Spain. British, Italian and German referees though also account for the art of defence and that jostling, pushing and the fact that tackles are not entirely illegal. Players like Kompany, Vidic, Lahm, Chiellini would be more than happy to just push Messi off the ball rather than try to play along with his ball skills. Yet he does succeed when playing for Barcelona, now why is that? the answer is simple, Iniesta and Xavi. You combine those two with Messi and you have a tremendous formula. Let Iniesta and Xavi control the midfield and push Messi forward and then just target Messi for through balls. Argentina plays with Messi at the center of the attack, he is given the ball in the midfield and then they expect him to do some magic and get them goals, which frankly he does at times. But you cannot depend on magical moments to win matches regularly. Messi is gifted but he is not GOD. Argentina needs to change tactics in order to make something happen, I do not see something like that happen anytime soon though. One more reason for Argentina to do miserably at the biggest stage is that they lack a commanding figure at the center of the field. The manager can inspire the players only upto a degree, the captain has to do his part. I doubt Messi has the commanding presence necessary to do that. He has ball skills but you get the feel that he lacks people skills. To inspire the team he tries to do some magic with the ball. When it works it works well. When it fails though (and it is bound to fail more often against strong opponents) it demoralizes the team even further. Forgive me but I doubt that it helps with the team spirit. There are managers out there who can fill the gap, but they are not Argentinian and Argentina is a country that will never appoint a non-argentinian as a coach.
I would love to see Argentina win the world cup, and I would love to see Messi being the driving force for that happening, its just that I do not see that being possible anytime soon. Its true he still has a long time to mature further and maybe that will bring him true greatness but he is not a great, not YET! I can’t help but feel that people will forget him as soon as the next possible Maradona, Pele comes along (remember what Tevez was labelled before Messi came along? Tevez is good but surely not great, sorry Man City fans ). I hope Messi can prove me wrong, but I frankly do not see that happen.