After 20 years, is he finally learning not to do everything himself?


Do you remember Lionel Messi? Little guy, used to have a bowl cut? You started out dribbling everyone but were fouled the whole time? Then he became the best passer in the world and also the best scorer? Finally cut her hair, but bleached it blonde? Rinse out the peroxide and let the beard grow? It looked like he had washed away that crisis, then tattooed his entire leg in black ink? Seven times Ballon d’Or? Have you ever heard of him?

He was everywhere, always. Watching football for the past 15 years was trying to pay attention to someone else on any given Saturday or Sunday, only for Messi to remind you that you’re wasting your time not watching him.

Do you like this Bayern Munich game? Hey, I just dribbled past the whole Getafe team. Oh man, that Zlatan guy is pretty interesting, huh? You know what’s interesting? I just scored 50 goals and made 16 assists in 38 La Liga games. Whoa, will Manchester City ever lose a game? Uh, my team just took 20 hits in a match and have tried or witnessed all of them. Alright, looks like it’s time to cash in on this Erling Haaland deal? I’m 32 years old and I’m going to have a 20-20 goals and assists season just for fun.

Each month during the season, European Sports Media – a group of 14 European magazines – votes on a team of the month. There is a archives of their selections dating back to the 1995-96 season. Since then, Messi has been elected 84 times. No other player has made more than 51 appearances (Cristiano Ronaldo). Simply put, in his 16 seasons with Barcelona, ​​Messi was voted into the team of the month 60% of the time. For over a decade and a half, Messi’s average month was better than the best of everyone else. He is the only player who was more likely to be in the squad than not.

Then, all of a sudden, he disappeared.

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There is only… nothing. No jaw-dropping runs, no physics-defying free-kicks and almost no goals. Twenty-one matches after his first season in Ligue 1 for Paris Saint-Germain, the greatest footballer of all time has scored once. In the 2012-13 season, he had already scored 33 goals at this stage of the domestic campaign. In his last three years at Barcelona, ​​he had averaged 16 goals in the first 21 matches of the La Liga season. I repeat: Lionel Messi has scored ONE GOAL in Ligue 1 this season. Unsurprisingly, given that – and shockingly, considering everything else – he has yet to be selected to ESM’s Team of the Month this season. He has been so absent from the daily rhythms of European football that some people have actually crazy when he won the Ballon d’Or.

It sure is the beginning of the end – or maybe it’s the start of something new.


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