The 2011 Copa America in Argentina will gather a host of superstars competing for the same reward, and Lionel Messi’s name cannot be omitted from the list of the tournament’s most scrutinized players.
Great, But Not Yet Complete
In six years, Messi has turned from a promising young player to an imposing icon. His spell at FC Barcelona is nothing less than brilliant, with the 23-year-old winning trophies and individual awards over and over again. He is regarded as the current generation’s most dangerous and influential player by many, although a large portion of the global football audience believes he still has a lot to prove at international level.
Messi—who ended his 2010 World Cup run as goalless despite impressive performances—made satisfying contributions overall to the Albicelestes’ campaign in the 2007 Copa America. Among Leo’s most remarkable moves in that particular competition was his magnificent lob against Mexico in the contest’s semi-final stage; however, a 3-0 defeat in the final against arch-rivals Brazil tarnished all good memories.
Lowlights and Highlights
Regardless of the rapid progress and great attainments in Messi’s career, it is undeniable that the reigning FIFA Ballon d’Or winner has had dreadful moments at some point. It is noticeable that most lowlights took place with his country’s senior national team, which explains why it is so significant for Messi to aim for glory with Argentina, this time around. Below, with take a look at Messi’s lowlights and highlights with the Albicelestes and his country in general. Readers must note that youth tournaments involving no veteran are excluded from the events mentioned.
2006 World Cup:
He was unable to stamp his authority in the competition despite showing great abilities. He could only watch Argentina get eliminated by hosts Germany in the quarterfinals from the bench.
2007 Copa America final: Despite playing full time, he was incapable of strengthening Argentina in the final against Brazil, with the eventual champions humiliating his team 3-0.
2010 World Cup Qualification: He clearly failed to make an impact in Argentina’s run throughout the qualifying series, which led many to judge him as disloyal to his country. Something that will never be forgotten is his lack of influence in Argentina’s disastrous 6-1 defeat to Bolivia in La Paz on April 1st, 2009.
2010 World Cup finals: Messi could not exhibit his goalscoring abilities, ending his run in South Africa with no goals. He had amazing performances in the group stage and in the Round of 16, but a brutal disqualification subsequent to a 4-0 defeat to Germany in the quarterfinals destroyed everything.
2008 Olympic Soccer: Messi—then already a senior level national team player—participated in the 2008 Summer Olympic games, where he happened to play a key role in Argentina’s road to success. It was in China that the ace received his very first, and so far only, Olympic gold medal.
Award winner: He surpassed legend Diego Maradona in the rankings of winners for the Footballer of the Year of Argentina award in 2010, when he received the honour for the fifth time (see below for respective years).
Messi is one of the most successful active players at the moment, being well positioned enough to boast about numerous individual titles. Below are all the awards that he has obtained up to now in his footballing career:
- FIFA Ballon d’Or (2010)
- FIFA World Player of the Year (2009)
- FIFPro World Player of the Year (2009, 2010)
- FIFPro World XI (Member in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- FIFA Team of the Year (Member in 2008, 2009, 2010)
- FIFA Young Player of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008)
- Ballon d’Or (2009)
- FIFPro World Young Player of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008)
- FIFPro Special Young Player of the Year (2007, 2008)
- FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball (2009)
- UEFA Team of the Year member (2008, 2009, 2010)
- UEFA Champions League Final Fans’ Man of the Match (2009, 2011)
- UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match (2011)
- UEFA Champions League Top Goalscorer (2009, 2010, 2011)
- UEFA Champions League Forward of the Year (2009)
- UEFA Champions League Player of the Year (2009)
- UEFA Best Goal of the Year Winner (2007)
- European Golden Shoe (2010)
- La Liga Ibero-American Player of the Year (2007, 2009, 2010)
- La Liga Foreign Player of the Year (2007, 2009, 2010)
- La Liga Top Goalscorer (2010)
- La Liga Player of the Year (2009, 2010, 2011)
- Copa del Rey Top Goalscorer (2011)
- Copa America Young Player of the Tournament (2007)
- FIFA U20 World Cup Top Goalscorer (2005)
- FIFA U20 World Cup Player of the Tournament (2005)
- U21 European Footballer of the Year (2007)
- Footballer of the Year of Argentina (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)
- ESM Team of the Year (Member in the following seasons: 2005/2006, 2006/2007, 2007/2008, 2008/2009, 2009/2010)
- Marca Leyenda (2009)
- Onze d’Or (2009)
- Bravo Award (2007)
- Tuttosport Golden Boy (2005)
Strength and Weaknesses
Messi is undoubtedly an extremely accurate player when it comes to dribbling. His ball control is tremendous, just as his left foot can do wonders in front of goal. In view of his short height, he has yet to become an expert in headers, which forces his teammates to avoid aerial play.
Maintaining possession and spotting his colleagues at the right time are part of his specialities, which make him a true team player. One can however spot few signs of selfishness at times when he relies on his abilities in crowded areas of the field, rather than looking on to his mates. Then again, he usually has no problem crossing defensive lines and making tricky, fast one-twos.
Current Form & Current Condition
Messi is presently considered in full shape. Having scored in Barcelona’s last match of the season against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final, the playmaker was expected to show his powers to his fans back in Argentina, and he did just that by entering the scoring sheet in a friendly against Albania recently in Buenos Aires.
There have been reports in the past linking him to top Serie A and Premier League clubs, but there has been no transfer rumour related to him, lately.
"I was lucky enough to win everything with (FC) Barcelona and on an individual level. Now, my goal is to play in and win the (2011) Copa America with Argentina."