The Guardian's Sid Lowe explains why FC Barcelona's genius forward is the best player in the world and Sortsintelligence's Nick Harris shares an interesting study on La Masia's graduates
• Lionel Messi: 86 reasons why Barça’s record-breaker is simply the best
“At 25, Messi has already forced everyone to use up all the superlatives. There's little left to do except make words up or just start swearing,” writes Sid Lowe in The Guardian. In his piece titled ‘Lionel Messi: 86 reasons why Barça’s record-breaker is simply the best,’ Lowe notes that “the records provide excuse and evidence but they also provide obligation. They are a reason, a duty, to focus on him once; excellence alone is no longer enough. But you'll never really do him justice.”
He adds: “And for all the caveats, for all the "yeah, buts" there's no getting away from the bottom line: 86 goals. Eighty-flipping-six. If it's eighty-five, it's still eighty-flipping-five. An average of a goal every 4.24 days for a year. And, yes, that includes the months when he didn't play a match”
• Revealed: Barcelona No1 for producing players for clubs in Europe’s elite leagues
According to Sportsintelligence, FC Barcelona have “produced more footballers currently earning a living as first-team players across Europe’s elite Big 5 divisions than any other club in the world.” The total number of professional active footballers produced by La Masia that currently play in top tier La Liga, Premiership, Calcio, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 teams are 38.
Nick Harris, author of the Sportsintelligence, piece notes: “Of Barcelona’s 38 players, 36 of them had Barça as their ‘primary producer’, or in other words Barca were the first club where they spent three or more years between 15 and 21. They include Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol among others.
Fourteen of the 38 are still with Barca while 24 play elsewhere, including Chelsea’s Oriol Remeu, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta.”