Argentina's Lionel Messi, in last week's quarter-final game. REUTERS
The man who has everything - almost

The man who has everything - almost


There's just one space in the Messi mansion's trophy cabinet, and that is for the elusive World Cup winner's medal


Friday, 16 December 2022, 11:37

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What do you give the man who has everything? If that man is Lionel Messi, it is clearly a World Cup winners' medal.

If the tournament was to be decided by sentiment, then the magical little Argentinian would be lifting the gleaming golden goblet above his head for certain.

The boring argument about who was, or is, the best has divided opinion for the past two decades. Who "was" may rage on for years to come but who "is still the best" in the business is beyond any doubt.

Cristiano Ronaldo pouted off to an uncertain future, drowning in a sea of tears, his powers diminished, and reputation damaged by one tournament and one (half) season too many. They say: "Leave them wanting more." In his case it's "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here." It's now clear that he should have cashed in his chips after his final season at Juventus when he averaged almost a goal per game in Serie A. He was aged 35 at the time.

Messi turned 35 in the summer and that couple of years makes an awful lot of difference. He's managing his senior years in a more controlled manner. After the upset of leaving his beloved Barcelona, he endured a quiet year at Paris Saint Germain.

Now, he's thriving at his new club in a reinvented role. Unlike his eternal rival, he's accepted that some powers have diminished but is still displaying some of the old superpowers. He's managed to transfer those skills to his international team.

In the past he'd dictated everything for Argentina. His teammates would look for him with every pass. Now they pick and choose the moments - and boy it's worked.

Messi headed into the final as joint leading scorer with Kylian Mbappé. Two of those goals were penalties but nobody is diminishing the importance of converting from the spot after the Harry Kane experience. Messi also scored in a vital quarter-final shoot-out against the Netherlands and has weighed in with three assists.

He's favourite for the Golden Boot but I'm pretty sure he'd pass the ball to a teammate and forsake that prestigious individual award if it means winning the ultimate team trophy.

There were times when he was snubbed by his fellow countrymen because he's spent all his teenage and adult life in Europe. Now he shares a national hero status with the legendary Diego Maradona. Him lifting the World Cup in 1986 is an iconic image.

Messi has already eclipsed Maradona when it comes to taking all of the major individual and club awards. Ballon d'Or, Champions League, La Liga, World Club Champion three times... With Argentina he's won the Olympics and last year led them to Copa America success. The list is almost endless.

There's just one space left in the Messi mansion's trophy cabinet, sorry trophy hall, and that is for the elusive World Cup winner's medal. Is it destiny to cap the greatest of careers with the most elusive of trophies?

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