Gines Romero /

Lionel Messi is, without a doubt, one of the best footballers who has ever lived. According to Nate Silver’s blog, his abilities are unprecedented.

It has been 10 years since Messi’s team debut with Catalonia club Barcelona. He signed his first contract on a napkin at the age of 13, then moved to Spain from Argentina to soccer academy La Masia. The club offered to pay for his growth hormone treatments at $1,000 a month. No one at the time could believe how good he was, despite his short stature. The rest is history, and he has never stopped breaking records. (You can see an interactive timeline of his Barcelona career here.)

Messi scored an unprecedented 91 goals in one year at the age of 25 and has been the only footballer in history to win the FIFA Ballon D’Or (best player of the year award) four times in a row. He narrowly lost the award in 2013 to striker Christiano Ronaldo (Messi had been plagued with injuries throughout the year). Messi was front and center during the famed Barcelona years of 2009-2011, which are considered by many to be the greatest years of any football club in history — they won back to back trebles (winning three trophies in each season), which included any and every competition they were involved in. This year, he was credited by many as being the catalyst who brought his home country of Argentina to the finals in the FIFA World Cup, where he won best player of the tournament. At only 27 years old, he is now two goals shy from reaching Spanish Football league La Liga’s all-time goal scoring record.

After careful analysis of the player’s record, Benjamin Morris of the FiveThirtyEight blog concluded that Lionel Messi is an unprecedented talent:

By now I’ve studied nearly every aspect of Messi’s game, down to a touch-by-touch level: his shooting and scoring production; where he shoots from; how often he sets up his own shots; what kind of kicks he uses to make those shots; his ability to take on defenders; how accurate his passes are; the kind of passes he makes; how often he creates scoring chances; how often those chances lead to goals; even how his defensive playmaking compares to other high-volume shooters.

And that’s just the stuff that made it into this article. I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.

It’s not possible to shoot more efficiently from outside the penalty area than many players shoot inside it. It’s not possible to lead the world in weak-kick goals and long-range goals. It’s not possible to score on unassisted plays as well as the best players in the world score on assisted ones. It’s not possible to lead the world’s forwards both in taking on defenders and in dishing the ball to others. And it’s certainly not possible to do most of these things by insanely wide margins.

But Messi does all of this and more.

Below are some videos of some of the great skills that Messi has shown throughout his years:

— Posted by Donald Kaufman


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