Lionel Messi will play in his second World Cup final on Sunday. Here are three reasons why he can be considered the greatest footballer of all time.
1 | Messi’s World Cup numbers
On Tuesday against Croatia, Messi became the player with the most appearances in World Cup history (25), equalling Lothar Matthäus’ record. On Sunday he will become the record appearance holder at World Cups. He is currently the joint top scorer with Kylian Mbappé (5) at the 2022 World Cup.
Messi has been involved in 19 goals at the World Cup (11 goals, 8 assists), equalling the best goals+assists tally for a player since 1966 (when data is available), previously set by Miroslav Klose, Ronaldo and Gerd Müller, according to Opta.
2 | The complete player
His individual contribution was always decisive but the growth in his collective contribution is remarkable. What was an electric and lightning-fast player in his early days is now a more experienced and slower player. The fast-paced Messi, who operated close to the box, coming in from both flanks, is now operating in a deeper role. His assist for Julián Álvarez against Croatia was outrageous.
3 | Because he keeps breaking records
Nobody in the world will have played as many World Cup games as him after the 2022 final. When he plays 25 minutes on Sunday there will be nobody who has played as many minutes as him World Cup history. How many years will it take for someone to break the record for being the highest Argentine goal scorer in the World Cup as he has just done? Gabriel Batistuta had it for 20 years and Messi overtook him, scoring his eleventh World Cup this week from the penalty spot. He will equal Pelé for World Cup goals scored if and when he scores his twelfth.
GSFN | Kieran Quaile