It has been an eventful few weeks for the 34-year-old, having lifted his first ever international trophy with Argentina at the Copa America and also pledged his future to Barcelona by signing a new deal at the Camp Nou.
A graphic shared by @BarcaTimes on Twitter suggests that Messi fully deserves his top billing with the bookmakers to land this year’s Ballon d’Or trophy. Compared to his rivals for the title, Messi has simply been untouchable this calendar year.
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The breakdown compares the stats of the Argentina captain with Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. It’s a phenomenally talented group, but when you break down the raw numbers, there’s been a clear gulf in class in recent times.
Of the nine categories analysed, Messi comes out ahead of his rivals in no less than six of them so far this calendar year. The Blaugrana’s record marksman notably tops the rankings in terms of chances created (120), assists (14), shots on target (87) and Man of the Match awards (25).
In addition, he boasts the best numbers in terms of successful passes (1,977) and dribbles completed (188). To top it all off, even in the categories where Messi wasn’t the dominant force, he wasn’t far away.
Ronaldo – despite being the oldest of the five at 37 – has played the most games this year (39). However, this is only one more than Messi, who has turned out 38 times.
Prolific Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski has found the net 34 times in 28 games in 2021. That outstanding record is enough to seal him the top spot in terms of goals scored. Again, though, Messi is just a single goal behind on 33.
Finally, Paris Saint-Germain’s Mbappe emerges top when it comes to balls recovered (89), but the Argentinian is no slouch in those stakes either, himself working hard to regain possession on 86 occasions.
You can check out the full graphic here…
Given everything that he has achieved in his legendary career, it is a testament to Messi that he still remains as hungry as ever for success. Should he keep up his considerable performance levels, it would be a big surprise not to see him record yet another Ballon d’Or triumph in 2021.