There were a lot of transfer rumours surrounding Lionel Messi during the January transfer window. It has died down after a spectacular month from the Little Argentine. Messi appeared to be out of the running for the Pichichi award, which is given to the league’s top scorer. A combination of brilliant form coupled with Cristiano Ronaldo failing to maintain his run sees Messi trail by just 3 goals. Ronaldo has 29 league goals while Messi has 26, but the Real Madrid superstar has scored more penalties.
Messi has been going through a ‘goal scoring crisis,’ as he has not found the back of the net in the last two matches. This may not seem as a major crisis for any player, but the impeccable standards set by the 27-year-old makes it look like a goal drought. The last 12 months have been very up and down for the Argentine. He was criticised for his lacklustre performances with Barcelona last season, but he recovered very well to almost carry Argentina to the brink of a World Cup title on his own.
In the first half of the season, Messi started playing much deeper and was often seen contributing goals to the team in an indirect fashion. Messi scored only 15 goals in the league in the first half of the season, but he is already up to 11 since the winter break. There have been mammoth changes to his game and Messi is the first to acknowledge this.
He says that he is no longer the player that he used to be when the team was built around him. Messi came through the ranks when Frank Rijkaard was the Barcelona manager. However, it was during Pep Guardiola’s time that he started showing his full potential. Guardiola built his team around Messi and the youngster enjoyed being the centre of attention. His goal records continued to soar with every season, but Messi has hinted that age is starting to show in his game.
Some may see the Barcelona superstar at the peak of his game. After all, he is only 27 right now. However, he has been playing first-team football from his teens and is close to appearing in his 500th professional match for the Spanish club.
This takes an incredible toll on the body and Messi says that he is having to adjust his game in order to look after himself. Messi has been able to rise to the position of being the best player in the world only because of his impeccable injury record. He has rarely missed matches and incredibly talented players like Sergio Aguero cannot say the same.
Last week’s shock 1-0 defeat against Malaga has put Barcelona four points behind Real Madrid. Luis Enrique’s team had done well to close the gap to one point just before this match.
One can expect more changes to Messi’s game as time progresses. After being criticised for missing a penalty against Manchester City in the Champions League, Messi will be hoping to show that the recent blip is no cause for concern when Barcelona take on Granada.