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'We are seeing the beginning of the end of the Messi era' | Tim Vickery

Football Writer Tim Vickery joined Joe Molloy on Off The Ball and discussed Lionel Messi breaking...


'We are seeing the beginning of the end of the Messi era' | Tim Vickery

Football Writer Tim Vickery joined Joe Molloy on Off The Ball and discussed Lionel Messi breaking Pele's goal-scoring record.

Lionel Messi scored his 644th goal for Barcelona against Real Valladolid this week. That is one more goal than the 643 that Pele scored for Santos during his career.

Phil Vickery first noted that despite that record, it's clear that we're coming towards the end of the Messi era.

"He's not the physical force that he once was. He can't get away from opponents," Vickery said.

"He's still great because of the range of his talent is magnificent but I would imagine that's going to mean I can't see Man City being there as an option.

"If he does leave Barcelona, I would have thought that...Paris St. Germain would be the place he would want to go.

"Because he can coast a little bit, keep himself fresh for what really matters: business end of the Champions League and one more crack at the World Cup."

Vickery is almost certain that Messi won't join man City. He believes it's "maybe 2-3 years too late" for him to put himself through the physical challenge of the Premier League.

But more important than that, Vickery is worried that history will frame Messi's goal-scoring record unfairly the same way it has Pele's.

"I'm wondering how future generations will look back on [Messi's record] because there's a tendency now from today's pundits to look at Pele's competitive goals for Santos and say 'Who were they against? It was the Sao Paolo state championship yeah yeah yeah.'

"From the point of view of the time, Brazilian football wasn't an export industry then so it had the best Brazilian players. The vast majority of them were playing in Brazil. But also some very good players from elsewhere in South America.

"So the level of opposition was much higher than you may think if you're just looking from today's perspective."

Messi LaLiga Santander FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad.Marc 7th March 7, 2021, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain: March 7, 2020 - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - LaLiga Santander- FC Barcelona v Real Sociedad; Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates the 1-0. (Credit Image: © Eric Alonso/ZUMA Wire)

How will history remember Messi?

Messi has faced high-level Brazilians and the best players from across the world in Europe in the Champions League. But we know that now.

As Vickery explains, future generations may not realise this because of the potential for a European super league.

"Let's fast forward 30-40 years...they may well be looking back at Messi and saying 'How many of those goals were scored against Getafe and Levante?' because by then I imagine the big European clubs will have got their way and they'll have a European Super League.

"There won't be as many of these games, the Barcelona's against the Getafe's of life. I hope that this doesn't happen.

"The traditional of Brazilian football was regional, but now it's national. The state competitions for decades were the main events and taken very, very seriously.

"A lot of teams have big club the south and the south east there are 12 giants....[but] when football becomes national, there aren't enough meaningful titles left for all of these clubs to retain their giant club status.

"If you have 12 big clubs in one league, someone has to finish 12th. And if you're consistently finishing 12th, are you a big club anymore?"

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Argentina Barcelona Brasil Goals Lionel Messi Pele Tim Vickery