Lionel Messi’s rise to becoming arguably football’s greatest ever player can be attributed to a number of factors, but what sets him apart is his dribbling ability.
Beyond being a prolific goalscorer and creator, the Argentine possesses unrivalled close control and speed when it comes to running at defenders.
Perhaps the most famous example of Messi’s quick feet came against Getafe in the 2006/07 Copa del Rey, when he scored a goal similar to Diego Maradona’s effort in the 1986 World Cup.
Messi, after picking up the ball in his own half, beat no less than five defenders in a mazy run before dribbling past the goalkeeper and slotting into an empty net.
The reaction of his teammates said it all. As Messi ran off in celebration, Eidur Gudjohnson, Deco and Samuel Eto’o could all be seen with head in hands.
Few would argue against Messi being the ‘King of Dribbling’ – but what’s his secret? One fan theory from earlier this year claimed it’s the sheer amount of touches he takes.
“The secret is that he touches the ball way more times than other players,” Azevedro wrote on Reddit. “[Eden] Hazard touches the ball a lot too, but Messi’s touches are ridiculously small.
“He can touch the ball eight times dribbling two meters. I think he is able to take such a high frequency of touches because he runs on tiptoes.
“When he tiptoes and dribbles, suddenly he is able to take more touches within the same distance.”
An interesting theory that makes a lot of sense, but one that only the Argentina international is able to put into practice on a weekly basis.
Messi has tormented La Liga – and European football – with his dribbling for well over a decade now, with Zaragoza once on the receiving end of one of his trademark runs.
Back in 2010, Messi produced an insane solo run to score and quite literally shock the entire Barcelona bench, including Thierry Henry.
In the video below (see at 3:13), the 29-year-old leaves his teammates in disbelief by out-muscling one defender, beating another and then twisting and turning before firing past the goalkeeper. Check it out.
Stunning. Henry didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic simply applauded and Barcelona’s substitutes went crazy.
Even Pep Guardiola looked in shock, just staring blankly at the pitch while clenching his fists. That’s the effect Messi has.