Six Ballon d’Or awards, six European Golden Shoes, tons of goals and assists, a flurry of records and a number of trophies are great things to have in a resume. However, Lionel Messi has set such high standards for himself that two Ballon d’Ors in seven years look below-par.
When one compares that with his four back-to-back Ballon d’Or triumphs between 2009 and 2012, Messi’s recent accomplishments does seem bleak. And that’s what Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has claimed. He feels the diminutive Argentine has seen a dip in his form since Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012.
There’s no denying the impact Guardiola had on Messi but that doesn’t necessarily validate or mean that ‘Messi after Guardiola’ is not on the same level as ‘Messi under Guardiola’.
“Messi was one of the leaders, but he also worked for the team and excelled as a result. He has never been as good as under Guardiola. Messi still excels, but now also occasionally goes through the lower limit. It was never like that under Guardiola. Pep has guts, he dares to be pioneering and innovative.”Erik ten Haag
Messi’s stats over the seasons
|2008-09||51||38 (23 in la liga)||18|
|2009-10||53||47 (34 in la liga)||13|
|2010-11||55||53 (31 in la liga)||24|
|2011-12||60||73 (50 in la liga)||31|
|2012-13||50||60 (46 in la liga)||15|
|2013-14||46||41 (28 in la liga)||14|
|2014-15||57||58 (43 in la liga)||28|
|2015-16||49||41 (28 in la liga)||23|
|2016-17||52||54 (37 in la liga)||16|
|2017-18||54||45 (34 in la liga)||18|
|2018-19||50||51 (36 in la liga)||22|
Messi’s performance under different managers
Whether Lionel Messi had more impact under Pep Guardiola can be debated, but his goals and assists data remains fairly consistent under all the managers he has played at Barcelona.
Here’s the break-up of his performances in the Champions League and La Liga under different managers at the Camp Nou.
Pep Guardiola’s time at Barcelona
Pep Guardiola’s reign at the Camp Nou coincided with the rise of Lionel Messi. As Barcelona were faltering, Messi gradually established himself as an important first team member. With Ronaldinho approaching the dusk of his spell at Barcelona, Messi was putting forward his case to take the team forward and that’s what he did.
Ronaldinho left in 2008, the year Guardiola took charge of Barcelona. During his four-year reign as the Barcelona manager, Guardiola led the Blaugrana to a stunning period of success which included three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey wins and two Champions League triumphs.
Lionel Messi also experienced an extraordinary run of individual success during the same period, winning the Ballon d’Or four consecutive times between 2009 and 2012.
The record-breaking year of 2012
The 2011-12 season was Pep Guardiola’s last as a Barcelona manager and Lionel Messi rounded it off with 73 goals. The good start to the calendar year of 2012 meant the Argentine had a huge foundation laid out to wreak havoc in the coming months. Even though Guardiola left after the season, Messi began the 2012-13 campaign with a bang and ended it by scoring 91 goals in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina in 2012.
Why Ten Hag’s claims are weak and Cristiano Ronaldo’s role in Messi’s ‘decline’
Since Pep Guardiola left, Barcelona have won the Champions League just once in eight seasons. It is widely considered that a team’s performance plays a major role in deciding the Ballon d’Or winners. Maybe that’s why Lionel Messi has won the prestigious award ‘only’ two times in that timeframe.
Also, it’s almost impossible not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo’s name when one talks about Lionel Messi and vice versa. Such has been their storied rivalry that the duo is always spoken about in the same breath such as tennis stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Since Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, Ronaldo won the Ballon d’Or four out of seven times, and Real Madrid winning the Champions League four times hugely boosted his case.
Lionel Messi, who has won the La Liga Golden Boot and the European Golden Shoe for the past three seasons, has been in phenomenal form in the present campaign as well. Despite missing the early parts of the season through injuries, the 32-year-old currently tops the goalscorers’ list in La Liga, with 19 strikes to his name.
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