One of the greatest footballers of our generation. Messi has been off to a far from ideal start this season and has fans in confusion.
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Dec. 6, 2020, 1:44 p.m.
Lionel Messi is one of the most naturally gifted footballers of our generation. The Barcelona and Argentina talisman owns loads of records and accolades and is regarded as one of the greatest if not the greatest footballer of all time. However, his start to football this season has been far from ideal, 4 goals scored in 9 games in the league and 7 in all competitions. Which is a far cry from his lofty standards. Here we try to analyze what is wrong with Lionel Messi this season.
It is common knowledge that Messi and former Barcelona President Josip Maria Bartomeu do not get along. Messi was at crossroads with the club hierarchy when the club decided to sack the then manager Ernesto Valverde, and more recently, the departure of his striking partner and friend Luis Suarez to Atletico Madrid this season. It boiled over to such a degree that Messi went to war with the board in an attempt to force a move away from the club. With every club with pockets deep enough to afford his price and his wages being linked with him. When that collapsed, Messi gave an interview calling out the board for their mismanagement and poor decision making. Despite being one of the finest, these off pitch incidents can have a detrimental effect on any player and with the things going as they are at this moment, It seems like it has.
Do Barcelona over rely on Messi and is this in turn having a negative effect on him? Over the past four seasons, Messi has accounted for almost a third of the goals that Barcelona have scored (it was 28.18% in 2019-20, 36.95% in 2018-19, 31.91% in 2017-18 and 31.57% in 2016-17) with only Luis Suarez or Neymar coming close to his numbers and providing support to him, with both of them gone now, it has meant that a lot of work has fallen on his shoulders. And Barcelona’s recent acquisitions in the transfer market have been inconsistent, injured or played out of position, whether it is Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Paco Alcacer, Gerard Deulofeu, Malcom, Martin Braithwaithe or Phillipe Coutinho.
Everybody ages, youth doesn’t last forever. Same goes for footballers, eventually age catches up to the best too. Messi turned 33 this July and last season, his return of 25 goals in 33 games was his second lowest in a season, since 2008-09, when he scored 23 goals in 31 games. It is a far cry from the days when he was battering almost 50 goals in a league season. Not bad but not what you would expect from a player of Messi’s caliber. Does this mean that time has started to catch up to the magician from Rosario? Is his never ending purple patch over? We don’t know for certain. But from the looks of it, maybe it is.
There is still a very long way to go in this season, and who knows? By the end of it, Messi could still hit the numbers from the old. But it is also possible that his tally may hang around mid-20s now. Barcelona are trying to get things right under Ronald Koeman this season, but the results have been mixed. Hopefully things get better for both Barcelona and Messi.