After the Qatar 2022 world cup, Messi’s admirers and fans ended the debate with a substantial declaration that he is the greatest football player in history or the greatest of all times (GOAT).
On the contrary, Lionel Messi’s football career witnessed an abrupt end in Europe as he was suspended by PSG last week for his unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia.
He scored 31 goals in 71 appearances for the French champions and is expected to secure a second consecutive Ligue 1 title later this month, however, he has failed in his mission to take PSG to a first Champions League win, facing back-to-back last-16 defeats.
Barcelona had been eyeing to take the 35-year-old back to Camp Nou, where he won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League titles before an emotional departure in 2021.
Though Saudi Arabia is alleged of diverting attention from its human rights record using sports, Riyadh will be able to boast of having arguably the two best football players of the modern era in their unheralded domestic league.
Ronaldo is playing for Al Nassr, while a source close to the negotiations who told AFP that Messi’s move to Saudi Arabia was a “done deal”, stopped short of saying which club the Argentine will join.
The absence of a World Cup winner’s medal had long been Exhibit A in the debate about why Messi was unable to go above Pele and Diego Maradona in football.
But with Argentina’s triumph over France in last year’s nail-biting World Cup in Doha, the case surely reached its end.
In his three decades football career, Messi won 37 club trophies, seven Ballon d’Or awards, and six European Golden Boots.
There has been a Copa America title, an Olympic gold medal, and a list of scoring and statistical records that may never be beaten.
In the Argentine forward’s World Cup appearance, he scored twice as Argentina battled to a 3-3 draw in extra time before taking a lead on penalties.
Not even French forward Kylian Mbappe’s hat trick could upset Messi’s appointment with destiny on a night that seemed pre-ordained.
Whether Messi really is the “greatest ever” is a question, of course, that is as futile as the answer is subjective.