“If you’re saying anybody else is the best player in the world, Messi’s had a broken leg for a year, or he’s dead or you’re lying.” – Leading Sports Scientist, Simon Burndish on CNN.
The scientific study carried out by Simon Burndish, using verifiable statistics called the xG-Build ends every ‘Who is the GOAT?’ argument. This is science and not sentiments. In fact, many Culés [FC Barcelona fans] and Messi stans will agree it’s disrespectful to even compare the little magician to any footballer, living or dead. They are also quick to tell you Awards like Ballon D’or (voted by humans) is not an appropriate yardstick to judge the phenomenon that is Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini.
The Ballon d’Or award honours the male player deemed to have performed the best within a season, based on voting by football journalists. The selection process and voting procedure for choosing a Ballon d’Or winner is a bit complex, but in summary, the metrics that the jury follows to choose and rank their top five Ballon D’or selections are as follows:
- Individual and collective performances (winners) during the year.
- Player class (talent and fair play).
- Overall judgment of the player’s career.
Let’s quickly look at the numbers.
A. In Europe
1. UCL Top Scorer – Messi currently leads the way as the top scorer in this season’s UEFA Champions League with 12 goals, leading Robert Lewandowski who has 8 goals. He also recorded this season, the best scoring ratio of his career in a UCL season, 1.29 goals per 90 minutes.
2. Top Scorer in Europe [Domestic and UEFA Club Competitions] – Messi trumps his closest rival Kylian Mbappe with 11 goals. Messi sits on top with a whooping 50 goals.
3. Most Assists in Europe – Messi has a total number of 19 assists this season, 13 in La Liga, 3 in the champions league, 2 in Copa Del Rey and 1 in Supercopa.
4. UCL Team of the Week – Messi has appeared more then any player in this season Champions League’s ‘Team of the Week’.He has featured 8 times and is the Only Player to Feature in 8 of the 12 UCL Team of the Week.
5. Most Attempts on Target – Messi tops this list with 24 successful attempts on the goal post.
B. In Spain
6. La Liga Top Scorer – Messi scored 36 goals in all the 34 La liga games he played this season and clinched the Pichichi trophy for the 6th time with a 1.05 goal coefficient, equalling Telmo Zarra’s record. The next highest total was Benzema’s 21. It’s the highest winning margin in the history of the competition. He’ll also be awarded the European Golden boot for the the 3rd time in a row, 6th time overall, making him the all time record winner. Also, 73% of points were won when Leo scored or Assisted. He had 24 victories and 40% of all Barcelona goals were single handed scored by Leo. One word: GOAT!
7. La Liga Top Assist – Messi’s 13 assists this season, which he shares with Sevilla’s Serabia, makes it the fifth time he will be finishing top of that particular list.
8. Most Freekick Goals – 8 freekicks has been scored by Lionel messi this season, including the now famous Panenka against Espanyol, making him the top on that list. Two of them came in the Champions League.
9. Most Hattricks – Messi netted 4 hattricks this season, reaching his 50th career hattrick in the process.
10. Most Shots on Target – The only player in the laliga that comes close to the little magician in terms of shots on target is Luis Suarez (57), Messi has 89.
11. Most Chances Created – The Argentine generated 92 chances this season; the most by any player. He also leads in the Most Chances Created in Open Play and Big Chances Created rankings with 78 and 34 respectively.
12. Second Most Take-Ons Completed – Messi’s 134 completed dribbles in La Liga is 10 less than Celta’s Boufal’s 144.
13. Most Fouls Won – Messi, as expected tops the list with 29 fouls won, followed by Eibar’s Orellana with 24. Suarez follows closely with 23.
14. Most Goals From Outside The Box – Messi has scored 9 goals from outside the box which is the highest by any player in the league.
15. Most Braces – In football, a brace means scoring 2 goals. Messi has the highest, 7.
16. – Most Passes on Final Third – Messi has a whopping 1139 passes ending in the final third. His team mates, Jodi Alba and Rakitic take the 2nd and 3rd spot with 872 and 750 passes respectively.
17. Most Woodwork Hits – Messi has hit the woodwork 10times this season, almost as twice as the second on the list, Benzema who has 6.
18. Most Shots Taken – Messi took 171 shots this season in La Liga. The next doesn’t even come close with 115.
In addition to having won the League, Supercopa and hopefully later today, the Copa Del Rey, these incredible stats show no other player has had a better year than Lionel Messi or is even more deserving of the 2018/2019 Ballon D’or Award. Simple as that!
@Harri_Obi is a Multi-media Personality and the convener of ‘Gidi Culés, a Lagos based FC Barcelona Supporters Group.
@_BakareTomiwa contributed to this piece. He’s a student and a passionate Culé.