Poor Lionel Messi.
The Argentine superstar has the money and the stats and may be even grudging admiration from his rivals, but he gets no respect from La Liga.
So after signing a new contract that reportedly made him the world’s highest paid player, he is sitting out the Spanish premier league season.
Messi is a victim of his own success.
Against the competition, he has been having a strong season. Brooks Peck of Yahoo Sports writes that Messi has been outscored by only two men this season – Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez. He also had 11 assists and the highest average rating in La Liga, according to WhoScored, a football stat and analysis provider.
But against himself, Messi has had a prosaic run, and this assessment is not even based on numbers but on perception.
That is a problem because fair or not, the Messi vs. Messi comparison makes it nearly impossible for the man to rise to the challenge. By raising the bar on himself, Messi will always be judged on the basis of perfection.
Peck cites a string of broken promises at a mismanaged series of friendlies bearing Messi’s name, tax evasion charges in Spain and other personal issues that don’t factor into the Argentine’s playing stats.
They don’t reflect on performance as much as injury or a bout of vomiting does, although in the latter case, Messi did produce more than a creditable performance notwithstanding.
And then there is the very real possibility that certain players will shine brighter as happened to Ronaldo who has replaced Messi as the world’s best player in the minds of football fans.
Messi’s blockbuster deal with FC Barcelona would look like poetic justice if the sequence of events were reversed.
Still, when you have a US$34 million contract to cry on, you begin to feel less sorry for yourself.
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