- Full name Lionel Messi
- Nickname Leo
- Birth date June 24, 1987
- Birth place Rosario, Argentina
- Current age 26 years 260 days
- Height 5 ft 7 in
Lionel Messi is the heir apparent to the throne left vacant by Diego Maradona. The waters are divided between those who consider him to be far from being the best No. 10, and those who believe that Messi will be even better than Maradona.
Born in Rosario, he cut his teeth in the youth ranks of Newell's Old Boys, until a hormonal problem that affected his growth changed the plans of his family and, of course, his personal future. Facing expensive treatment for their son, Messi's parents moved to Spain as Newell's were not able to afford the medical costs related to his condition, and even the wealthiest Argentine teams, such as River Plate, refused to foot the bill.
After his first trial with Barcelona, the Catalan coaches had no doubts. They decided to sign Messi and pay for his medical treatment. His growth was noticeable within Barca, and in little time he came to be considered one of the great talents at the club. He made his debut in the first division in October 2004, against Espanyol, and Barcelona have since adopted him as one of their greatest idols.
His first championship would come in the Liga season of 2004-05. Since then, and playing a more prominent role every season, he has won every major club trophy at Camp Nou - including a stunning haul of six in 2008-09 - and claimed the World Player of the Year award twice in two years, leaving many in little doubt as to the fact that Messi is the best player of his generation.
After scoring an astonishing 38 goals in all competitions in Barcelona's phenomenal '08/09 season, he eclipsed his efforts with 47 the following season and 53 in 2010/2011, scoring the match-winning goal against Manchester United at Wembley to seal Barcelona's third Champions League title in six seasons.
In 2012, Messi made UEFA Champions League history by becoming the first player to score five goals in a single match against Bayer Leverkusen, as he worked his way towards the world record for most goals scored in a season. Messi netted 73 goals in all, with his 50 La Liga goals a new record for the competition.
Strengths: His ball skills are second to none, his runs from midfield are usually lethal and he is almost impossible to tackle when he gets his head down. His balance when running at speed is incredible.
Weaknesses: Too often he searches for a way to finish moves by himself without looking for team-mates in a better position to shoot at goal.
Career high: Winning the 2009 and 2010 World Player of the Year awards.
Career low: He was unable to perform to his best in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals with Messi looking on from the bench.
Style: Quick, incisive, balanced, a stylish runner with the ball.
Quotes: "Messi is my Maradona," said Maradona himself, as the head coach of the Argentine national team.
Trivia: His debut with the national team (against Hungary) was a disaster: he entered the game in the 18th minute of the second half, and 47 seconds later was sent off.
- Messi relishing 'difficult' draw, loses out to Ribery (Aug 29, 2013)
- Ribery tipped to edge Messi, Ronaldo (Aug 29, 2013)
- Bale out of UEFA award shortlist (Aug 6, 2013)
- PSG issue Messi bid threat to Barcelona (Jul 19, 2013)
Messi tips Mourinho to thrive at Chelsea (Jun 28, 2013)