Why Is Messi So Good? (Statistics & Facts Explain)

According to many soccer fans, Lionel Messi is the best soccer player of the last two decades and perhaps of all time. Looking at his statistics, we can confidently say he is among the best of all time. But why is Messi so good?

Lionel Messi is so good because of his speed, excellent dribbling, passing, superb finishing and shooting, great ball control, agility, and vision. These traits allow him to put up impressive statistics, making him the player with the most assists and 4th top scorer of all time.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at why Messi is so good and what traits he best masters. In addition, statistics are used to determine whether Messi is the best soccer player of all time.

What Makes Messi so Good?

Not only do most soccer fans consider Lionel Messi to be the best player in the world right now, but a lot also believe him to be the best soccer player of all time.

It's clear to see why people believe this.

While at Barcelona, Messi won 10 La Liga titles, 7 Copa Del Rey trophies, 4 Champions League trophies, and 3 World Cups for clubs.

For Argentina, Messi has also won the Copa America, as well as winning the French Ligue 1 title with Paris Saint-Germain.

Lionel Messi also holds the record for the most Ballon d'Or wins. This award goes to the best soccer player in the world for that year. An award Messi has won seven times!

So now you know why people consider Messi to be one of the best of all time. But what is it that actually makes Messi so good? And is he actually the greatest ever?

Below I will explain the main traits of why Messi is so good.

Ball control (dribbling):

If you were to ask any soccer fan what makes Lionel Messi so special, they'd probably tell you it's his ball control and dribbling.

Messi is the greatest of all time when it comes to controlling the ball and taking it past defenders. There really hasn't been another player like him when it comes to this.

You can often hear fans say that the ball appears like it's glued to Messi's feet. It really is a sight to behold.

Lionel Messi has an average of 4.5 successful dribbles per game over his entire career for club and country. In the 2019/20 season, Messi achieved an average of 7.1 successful dribbles per game in the Champions League and 5.5 successful dribbles in La Liga.

Note that when we say successful dribble, this means a run with the ball where the attacker actually takes the ball past a defender while retaining possession.

These are incredible statistics, especially when comparing Messi to some of the other best players in the world.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo falls way short of this, with only 1.7 successful dribbles per game over his career.
  • Mohamed Salah also only has 1.7 successful dribbles per game.
  • Kylian Mbappé is a little closer with 2.5 successful dribbles per game but still a way off of Messi.
  • Only one player comes close, and that's Neymar Jr. Neymar is very close with 4.4 successful dribbles per game, just under Messi's 4.5.

As you can see, Messi really is untouchable when it comes to taking the ball past opposition defenders.

One reason he's so good at this is because of how quickly he's able to accelerate over short distances, even with the ball at his feet.

Speed (pace):

Messi's top speed with the ball is exactly the same as his overall top speed - 20.19 mph (32.5 km/h).

This is very rare as most players are usually quicker when running without the ball.

The most obvious reason for this is that his ball control is arguably the best in the world, meaning he doesn't lose any speed while dribbling.

As everybody can see, Messi is definitely on the shorter side. Messi stands at 5ft 6in. He also has quite a stocky frame. This results in a lower center of gravity for the player.

Such a low center of gravity helps Messi when accelerating. It means that his start speed is a lot faster than a taller player.

This low center of gravity is also partly why Messi can control the ball so well at high speed.

Although Messi is very fast, he's actually nowhere near the speed of the fastest players in the world.

Players such as Kylian Mbappé, Salah, Erling Haaland, Gareth Bale, and Cristiano Ronaldo all have higher recorded speeds than Lionel Messi.

However, with Messi's superior ball control, he doesn't need to be as fast as most of his peers.

Although Messi is nowhere near the top 10 fastest players in the world in terms of top speed, he is one of the top 10 fastest players with the ball at his feet, according to a 2017 study.

Player:Top Speed (with ball):
1. Gareth Bale22.92 mph (36.90 km/h)
2. Orlando Berrío22.36 mph (36.00 km/h)
3. Jürgen Damm21.89 mph (35.23 km/h)
4. Antonio Valencia21.81 mph (35.10 km/h)
5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang21.49 mph (34.60 km/h)
6. Aaron Lennon21.00 mph (33.80 km/h)
7. Cristiano Ronaldo20.87 mph (33.60 km/h)
8. Theo Walcott20.31 mph (32.70 km/h)
9. Lionel Messi20.19 mph (32.50 km/h)
10. Wayne Rooney19.38 mph (31.20 km/h)

As you can see, Messi only loses against players who have a much higher total top speed, i.e., without the ball.

(Click here to find out more about how fast Messi is)

Shooting (finishing):

Messi is not only perhaps the best dribbler on the ball, but he is also one of the best goal scorers in the world. In 973 appearances for both club and country, Messi has an unbelievable goal total of 769. Averaging 0.78 goals per game.

This makes Messi the 4th highest goal scorer in history.

Below are the top 10 goal scorers in history:

PlayerGoalsGamesAverageYears active
1. Cristiano Ronaldo81511200.722002-current
2. Josef Bican8055301.511931-1955
3. Romario7729610.781985-2009
4. Lionel Messi7699730.782004-current
5. Pelé7678310.921956-1977
6. Ferenc Puskás7417460.991943-1966
7. Gerd Müller7357930.931962-1983
8. Jimmy Jones6476141.051946-1966
9. Robert Lewandowski5848050.732006-current
10. Zlatan Ibrahimović5729560.601999-current

As you can see, Messi isn't far away from being the best goal scorer of all time.

There are a few reasons why Messi is so good at shooting.

The main reason is simply his pinpoint accuracy alongside his excellent composure.

Whenever Messi is one-on-one with the goalkeeper, it's almost guaranteed he'll calmly find the perfect placement.

His incredible ball control and dribbling that we've already talked about is another reason why Messi scores so many goals.

Being able to take the ball past defenders easily to find space for himself means that Messi has many more opportunities to score than others.

Messi's impressive agility is another reason why he gets so many goals. Once Messi begins running with the ball, it's very hard to stop him.

He has often used his impressive strength and balance to dance his way through the opposition to get a shot on goal.

Free-kicks:

Another reason Messi has so many goals is because of his impressive ability to score from direct free-kicks.

Messi probably isn't the first name soccer fans think of when talking about the best free-kick takers on the planet. In fact, most people often mistakenly point to Ronaldo as the best free-kick taker.

However, Messi has scored 58 direct free-kicks compared to Ronaldo's 56.

On average, Messi scores a free-kick every 16.1 games, while Ronaldo averages one every 19 games.

Messi has a successful free-kick rate of 9.3%.

Passing:

Messi can not only dribble and shoot fantastically, but he is also a great passer.

Messi has achieved an impressive 368 assists over his career. He completes an average of 57.1 passes per game, as well as 2.3 key passes per game.

This means that Messi has the most assists of all time.

PlayerAssists
1. Lionel Messi368
2. Thomas Muller287
3. Luis Suarez276
4. Cristiano Ronaldo272
5. Angel Di Maria267

Vision:

One of the main reasons Messi is able to get so many assists is because of his vision.

One of the most impressive parts of Messi's game is how he's able to see exactly how an attack will play out.

Even after he has effortlessly taken the ball past a defender, Messi is usually able to look up, read the game, and find his teammate with a killer pass.

This is something you simply can't teach and a skill that sets the elite soccer players apart from the good ones.

Decision making:

Decision making is also a major reason why Messi is able to get so many goals and assists.

Messi has all the natural ability in the world, but what's just as impressive is how intelligent he is while on the field.

You rarely see Messi take a hopeless shot on goal or misplace a pass. Every move he makes in a game is calculated and rarely ever wasted.

In short, Messi has both the brains and the ability.

Is Messi The Best Ever?

It's not hard to argue that Messi is the greatest of all time.

With a successful dribble average of 4.5 per game, Messi is surely the best player in the world on the ball. He might also be the best passer of the ball with a record-breaking 368 assists, the highest of all time.

Messi comes in 4th place of the highest ever goal scorers, but maybe we have to look at the number 1 on that list, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The argument for decades now has been Messi vs. Ronaldo. Who is the best?

Messi has Ronaldo beat with successful dribbles and assists. However, Ronaldo is faster than Messi and does have more goals.

It's worth noting, though, that Messi has played fewer games than Ronaldo and has a higher percentage of goals per game.

Messi averages 0.78 goals per game compared to Ronaldo's 0.72. Messi has also scored more direct free-kicks than Ronaldo, with a success rate of 9.3% compared to Ronaldo's 5.9%.

Although Ronaldo fans will argue that he has consistently performed at a high level for more teams across different leagues than Messi, there's no denying the stats lean towards Messi being the best.

As always, the person you think is the best ever is completely subjective and will vary from person to person.

Even so, there's no denying that when looking at the stats, Lionel Messi is probably the best ever. And that's without factoring in the record-breaking seven Ballon d'Or awards that Messi has won.

Conclusion

The reason that Messi is so good is due to his unmatched control of the ball. There's really not another player on Messi's level when it comes to dribbling.

His passing and shooting are among the greatest ever, with his vision and composure being why he's so good at these. 

Whether or not Messi is the greatest soccer player of all time is down to personal preference.

However, if we're going by statistics and facts, you could probably argue Messi is the greatest player ever to play the game of soccer.

James Miller

Soccer has been my passion since I was a kid. After my own career, I became a coach, something I have been doing for 15 years now. Sharing my knowledge about soccer is what I love most. So I hope you can appreciate my articles.
Published: 
July 6, 2022
Published: July 6, 2022