Leo Messi is undoubtedly a great player with a lot of natural skill and talent. There is also no doubt that the Argentinian prodigy has risen to the top by hard work and perseverance. A third factor in his success is the players that he hasn’t gotten the chance to play with. Undoubtedly, playing for Barcelona allowed him to interact with and learn from the greatest players in the game. There are many who impacted Messi and from whom Messi must have learnt a lot to develop his skill even further. Let us take a look at some of the players who had a Major impact on Lionel Messi development.
It goes without saying that the smiling Brazilian legend was Messi’s mentor who guided him all the way. The two enjoyed a close relationship and Ronaldinho, who plays in the same position as Messi, taught the young Argentinian a lot about the intricacies of playing on the wing. While we don’t see the same flamboyant dribbling and all the shuns and shimmies that Ronaldinho put on display, there is no doubt that Messi’s dribbling is just as prolific as his predecessor’s.
2. Xavi & Iniesta:
The two Spanish midfield maestros are mentioned together because the two acted as a single unit in the Barcelona midfield as well as in Messi’s development. When Messi used to spearhead the attack at Barcelona, it was really these two in the midfield who created beautiful passes for the striker and allowed him to roam freely all over the midfield finding space for himself. If one looks at how Messi has developed into a prolific passer, we can see that a lot of credit goes to these two, who I am sure taught Messi a good deal about how to work the Barcelona midfield.
The rock of Barcelona, Carlos Puyol was a well-loved and influential figure in the Catalan dressing room. There was hardly any player upon him the captain did not have an impact. Messi, being the wonder-boy of the club, received special attention. Although Puyol did not have much to teach Messi about how to be a great striker, he did help the young Messi attain a level of mental toughness that is necessary for the talisman of any team. Puyol’s presence was akin to a guardian angel for Messi, and whenever the latter got tackled heavily or was pressurized by the opposing defense, the former got involved and protected his protégé.
4. Thierry Henry:
The French striker was prolific at Barcelona and he also left a prolific impact on Messi, who acted as a supporting striker. Many believe that it was Henry’s style that inspired Messi’s marksman-like striking and his dribble-and-dazzle style of attacking at the defense is very much similar to that of the former French captain’s. Even after all these years, Henry still reminisces about his time at the club with Messi, where the duo won all the major trophies for Barcelona.