There is no doubt or argument that Lionel Messi is worthy of receiving the highest accolades in football for what he has achieved particularly last season for
He finished as the fourth top scorer in La Liga and only Diego Forlan, Samuel Eto’o and David Villa netted more than he did. An astonishing feat considering that, unlike that exceptional trio, he is not a center forward. Messi of course also helped
Messi’s graduation to the Ballon d’Or summit has come after a solid apprenticeship, which has seen him eventually climb from third, to second last year, to finally become the winner this year. In a way, he really is the first, second and third best player in the world… and not Cristiano Ronaldo, as he had claimed last year.
What is truly typical of this humble mega star of the game – Messi, not Ronaldo – is that he recognizes that his feat is a team effort. Speaking shortly after being named the 2009 European Footballer of the Year, Messi admitted that he felt any one of his other team-mates who were also nominated could have, and would have deserved to win the award. And Messi was also quick to praise
So all is well. The world hails a new winner, an immensely likable, humble, down-to-earth player with an embarrassingly enormous amount of talent. At only 22 years old, Messi is one of a handful of players who in an instant can have the whole stadium leap up onto its feet with a moment of exceptional magic and skill.
Messi giving his club-mate Busquets a taste of thin air
But still something nags away in the background. You begin to wonder that if Messi is that fantastic, cool looking elegant sports car that everyone simply purrs at when it’s moving into top gear as smooth and quiet as anything, what about the designer? What about the engineer? The architect? The genius with the vision to come up with the concept and make it reality. What about that master craftsman who, on a turn, can slip a ball through an entire defense and give that motor the free space to show what it can do?
In the traffic jam of a congested midfield, what about that silky technician who can spin a ball out to any flank or ride a challenge and suddenly create space? The one who moves the ball with such ferocious burst of speed that opponents fall down in a twisted heap having been turned one way then the other with his mesmerizing passes? What of that professor of the game who controls the pace, rhythm and the tempo of everything not only for Barcelona but the Spanish national team as well? The player who Maradona recently singled out for praise among all the embarrassing riches of talent that
In short, what of Xavi Hernandez?
Read it here if you have not already seen it repeated elsewhere on the site of Goal.com.
Xavi is today by far and away the best footballer in the world by a country mile, or a million kilometres or by any other Earth or Martian measurement of distance you care to use. The diminutive midfielder who reminds me so much of the Hollywood star Andy Garcia with his clean cut Latin looks, is the best thing that has moved a midfield since any player you care to mention.
The intelligence in his eyes both on and off the field is remarkable. At 29 he is now playing through the peak of his career. And the only disappointing aspect about the Ballon d’Or is that it failed this year is to recognize that Xavi has consistently been an outstanding player for both club and country since coming back from tearing his knee ligaments in the 2005/2006 season.
It also failed to take into consideration that the incredible season
The mastermind at work
If Fernando Torres scored an exceptional goal in the final against
His abilities are so great that you only have to look at the current winner, Leo Messi, in another context to realize how great Xavi is. Messi has struggled to work his magic for
Similarly for all his individual brilliance, last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo for the most part of
Given all this you have to ask the question. At what point and what more does this player have to do to receive the recognition that is his entirely?
This time next year Xavi will be 30. There is no guarantee that by then
If Xavi, with all that he has achieved in this last season has not won those honors, then what chances of him winning the award next year? He has only finished in the top three once and that was this year’s edition when he came in behind Ronaldo and Messi. If you care to glance at past winners, it’s astounding to think that if the likes of Michael Owen, Fabio Cannavaro, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Deco can be on the honors list, why is it that Xavi still have to wait to be recognized for the extraordinary player that he is.
Leo and Cristiano are still so young they have not even reached their peak. They have plenty of time to win this award over and over again to the point of boredom. But Xavi is in his ascendancy now. He is also an exemplary role model off the field and a player of tremendous loyalty.
If this rare and exceptional talent is not given the individual recognition that he deserves, then the concept of football being a team game is made into a mockery.
Ashish Sharma, Goal.comWho is the Very Best? Just the coolest world music group right now. They talk about their love of football--Henrik Larsson!--in the DEC/JAN issue of Goal.com Magazine.