Gentle applause rippled throughout the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, as a delicate Argentinean figure strode towards the stage for an unprecedented fourth time. His face was dressed with a potent smile – a smile brimming with self-confidence and mesmerizing calm. In spite of carrying out such an astonishing feat, neither the world nor Lionel Messi seemed much surprised. On the podium, the 24 year old spurted out his thank you’s and I-could-never-have-been-the-player-I-am’s; just standard procedure. He could be accepting a trite award for something as unremarkable as the ‘Spirit of Excellence Achievement Award’. But you’d then rub your eyes and be startled with the fact that this was indeed the FIFA Ballon D’Or ceremony. But, in its entire drama less showpiece, Messi truly captured his on field persona on the stage. Cool, composed, humble and most of all, graceful. 

Andres Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo watched on from afar, this time perhaps having accepted the realities of co-existing in the same timeframe as the South American genius. Though the question should really now be, how has Lionel Messi affected the beautiful game?

The capacity to undertake pressure, and then to perform the functions required during a game is a gift only owned by the few. Isn’t it sensational to find players spraying 70 yard pinpoint accurate passes, controlling and caressing difficult balls and holding their defensive line with ease, all at the 90th minute mark in a cup final? All of these qualities have been pertinent to the ‘success-plosion’ Barcelona has experienced in recent years. And the man who has fostered this philosophy, informally known as ‘tiki-taka’, has been spearheading the Catalans for half a decade now.

Lionel Messi is the success child of modern football, the by-product of years of development and thinking. He is the microcosm of all what is Barcelona and what the great club represents, the archetype of how and even why futbal should be played. After years of ironing out the ideologies first introduced by Johann Cruyff, Lionel Messi is the reward the world has got to see. And this particular reward has sent wave after wave of extraordinary ability echoing throughout the team-playing host. Average players seem to benefit from Messi’s presence, as he tends to ‘bring out the best in them’. It isn’t surprising to see that Xavi and Iniesta’s peaks have coincided with Messi’s rise. Both players have relied on Messi’s success for their own, as opposed to the traditional school of thought advocating the contrary.

Then there are individuals like Sergio Busquets, who have in turn benefited from the ability residing within players like Xavi and Iniesta. So Messi has exuded an effect, which is cumulative in nature. He has bettered those around him, and they have in turn bettered those around them. This might explain the current romanticism attached to the Barcelona side, where any and every player is said to follow the majestic and beautiful side of the game. It is possible that even if Titus Bramble is drafted into the side, he too might by the ‘Messi Touch’ (Failed wordplay. Read: Midas) and see his game flourish. Although, it is quite probable that he might only flourish in the mind of the hopeless romantic – a subterfuge, an illusion manufactured by a sense of play rooted in Messi’s success.

There is serious debate about whether Messi has caused a revolution or an evolution for attacking teams everywhere. Many believe there has been a slow process which has caused a transformation, with teams ditching the traditional ‘Two up front’ strategy in favor of a false 9, or an exciting attacking trio all interchanging capriciously during the course of a game. Glimmers of the ‘False 9’ were first spotted around ten years ago, when Francesco Totti caught the imagination of the global footballing fanbase. Italian pundits half-heartedly referred to his role as the Trequartista, (Another role perfected by a Juventus number 10) whereas some would occasionally call him a centre forward. Slowly, the term ‘False 9’ started appearing. However, it was only when Messi made his meteoric rise that the role gained much respect and recognition. His triumphs in the role were enough to persuade Vicente Del Bosque to adopt a similar attack during the Euros in 2012, as Cesc Fabregas saw himself seated up front. But, there are instances where no one can attach a specific role to Messi during a game. Technically, he plays in the opponent’s half and that is as much of a description his positioning can receive. He can be seen dumbfounding and vexing the opposition all over the pitch, be it on the sidelines or right through the middle. Such is the diversity and cleverness he plays with. This causes little surprise as to why Barcelona is one of the few teams practicing Total Futbol at the moment. Players wiggle in and out of position, transitioning seamlessly during play and jog up to create a symphony, a symphony of beautiful symmetry. 

Lionel Messi has left his legacy (or in the process of doing so) in two ways. From the idealistic point of view, he is the ultimate footballer football has been waiting for. And such is his mind-blowing talent that he leaves behind a sparkling trail wherever he runs – a trail through which other players in the team are galvanized. Practically speaking, he has crafted a new attacking ideology. Lionel Messi is the hallmark for modern football, and his success signals a transition into a turbulent and exciting world full of possibilities. 


Samee Zahid, a Liverpool fanatic, is an A-levels student hopelessly in love with the beautiful game. Aspiring to work in finance, and is attracted to logical and philosophical. buy cialis with mastercard, aceon buying online

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