With nine league titles, four Champions League titles and five Ballons d’Or in his rear view mirror, one may have expected that Lionel Messi’s best days were behind him. But, despite being on the wrong side of his thirties, the Argentine is currently enjoying his best season yet. Right now, he is completely unplayable.
The good news for Barca fans—who are watching their team head towards another record-breaking treble—is that he can keep getting even better.
Many people believe Lionel Messi is the greatest soccer player of all time and he’s dominated the game for over a decade. But somehow, at 31 years old, he’s actually getting better.
At Real Betis this past weekend, Messi scored an incredible free kick, a second goal where he easily beat three defenders, and an absolutely out-of-this-world chipped effort for his 45th career hat-trick. His performance was so perfect that the Real Betis fans gave him an ovation and chanted his name.
Messi was equally sublime in his previous outing against Lyon and is now averaging 1.73 goals and assists per game this season. That’s his highest season figure ever—so at a time when we thought he might expect him to be in decline, he’s actually getting even better. He’s involved in a goal every 52 minutes this season and leads Europe’s top 5 league for goals, assists and free kick goals.
But he’s not just improving when it comes to finding the net: he’s also leading Europe for key passes. As he gets older, he’s expanding his game and getting better in different positions. Barcelona are in their best form at this stage of the season since their treble-winning campaign of 2014-15, when Messi scored a phenomenal 58 goals. And while fellow forwards like Phillipe Coutinho and Luis Suarez have struggled on occasion this season, Barca's brilliance comes in no small part from Messi's magic.
If Messi can hit this level of unplayable form at this stage of his career, it stands to reason that he can keep getting better. He’s never relied on pace in his game, so the holistic improvement we are seeing from him right now can continue. And it probably will.
Barcelona are on course for another treble this season—which would be the third of Messi’s career. No team in Spain had managed one before he arrived. For now, count yourself lucky to be witnessing this kind of other-worldly talent every single week.
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