Opinion: Lionel Messi no longer needs Xavi and Iniesta

This season has been the one in which Lionel Messi finally moved past Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta’s shadow at FC Barcelona.

Lionel Messi’s first overwhelmingly successful year came during the 2008-09 season next to historic players Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.

Together, these three players emulated Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan by filling the Ballon d’Or podium in a single year.

Messi was a better player with those two incredible talents by his side, which was a major talking point for many of Leo’s top critics over the last decade.

There was always a misconception that even started to become common when anybody felt the need to come after Messi.

Renowned football journalists kept saying the same thing over and over, they were willing to bet that Messi wouldn’t be able to win any more trophies once Xavi and Iniesta retired.

This train of thought was obviously rejected by the Argentine player’s former teammates, they still repeat to this day that Messi is the best player in football history.

But all this criticism needed to stop with a performance from Leo in a crucial match, that day was last Wednesday against Liverpool at Camp Nou Stadium.

The Barcelona captain did make a threat as Jurgen Klopp mentioned before the match, Messi is taking this responsibility very seriously and his performance from last night only proves it.

The year 2015 was Messi’s last season with Xavi and Iniesta.

Even though both Spanish midfielders weren’t very prominent in Barcelona’s most recent Champions League title, they still made a massive contribution to the squad.

They still played the most important matches and they both were of massive importance for Barcelona’s second treble, which they got under manager Luis Enrique.

Messi only appeared in the semifinal against Bayern Munich but he didn’t even score against Juventus during the 2015 final, Leo needed to make a stand this season.

The first signs that he was absolutely going for the win came during the first half, WhoScored reveals that Lionel Messi completed a total of 9 take-ons during the whole 90 minutes of the match against the Reds.

The Argentine had a perfect 10 score from pretty much all the rating systems that analyzed his performance by numbers.

There have only been 10 perfect 10 performances rated by WhoScored in the Champions League this season, 5 of which have been Lionel Messi’s. Let that sink in…

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The Argentine player is clearly on another level right now, but his impact in the team goes far beyond only stats this season.

Messi has finally adopted the leader role completely, he confirmed that he doesn’t need Xavi or Iniesta to be the best player in the world.

Messi appeared after three years of Champions League drought.

The last three times that FC Barcelona was eliminated from the Champions League were a learning curve for Leo.

Messi barely touched the ball in all three games that got the Catalan club out of the continental competition, he wasn’t the skipper in either of those games.

But the man nailed his biggest audition as the club’s captain on his very first major test this season, Liverpool really was the most complicated moment for him to prove himself.

Granted, we still have to see what happens at Anfield Road next Tuesday but odds are that Messi might even get to score a goal or two over there.

Leo is having that great of a season, we might even be experiencing the best Messi we’ve ever seen.

We know how many times this has been said in the last decade but the evidence clears any shred of a doubt.

Perhaps this latest leadership test can also help Messi with his biggest struggle of all, the Argentina National Team challenge.

Leo still needs to convince his own country of the great player he is, winning a new Treble will certainly get him motivated to play next summer’s Copa America with his country.

There is a general feeling that this Messi is capable of anything, even with his national team.

Do you think Messi will be capable of winning every trophy he will play this season with his club and country? Please share your opinion in the comment section down below.

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