MESSI By Guillem Balague
Release date: 11th December, 2013
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TIME will tell if this is a watershed winter for Lionel Messi, or merely a hiccup in his progress to becoming, without question, the best footballer the world has seen.
The maestro of Barcelona and Argentina should be approaching his prime, at the age of 26, but is it just possible this is as good as it gets?
Author Guillem Balague, the face of Sky Sportsâ€™ Spanish football coverage, has dug deep to fashion an extensive 600-page work on the player more popularly known in his homeland and adopted country as simply Leo.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has no doubts the best is yet to come, promising Balague: â€śMessi will break every record imaginable because he gets better every year.
â€śIt is very difficult to imagine just where his ceiling is. He will be the best for as long as he wants to be, for as long as he maintains his ambitions and for as long as football remains his number one priority.â€ť
Balague embellishes the rags to riches story of a tiny kid, son of a steelworker and a cleaner, who needed hormone growth injections to rise from humble beginnings to become a global superstar.
Ever since he burst into the limelight, the ball seemingly magnetised to his left foot tearing through defences at 100mph, rivals have attempted to kick him from pillar to post.
And all the time Messi, seemingly indestructible, bounced back to his feet like an India rubber man.
But along with the description â€śgeniusâ€ť has come something else a little less welcome in the last 12 months, the phrase â€śpersistent muscle injury issuesâ€ť.
He won the coveted Ballon dâ€™Or on an unprecedented four occasions from 2009 but was beaten to the bauble in 2013 by Cristiano Ronaldo and, for the first time in six years, Messi failed to win a place in UEFAâ€™s team of the year.
Suddenly, Leo has something to prove and English football will be gripped when Barcelona come to Manchester City on February 18 for a Champions League match.
Those who consider Pele and Maradona to be his superiors cite the fact both men carried their nations to World Cup glory. Success captaining Argentina in Brazil must be high on Leoâ€™s to-do list this summer.
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