As far as football is concerned, Lionel Messi is just a bit good.
With five Ballon d’Ors and no less than four Champions League titles to his name, the Argentinian’s career is littered with silverware and incredible achievements. It’s far from outrageous to consider him the greatest of all time.
All that considered, it’s easy to think that the 29-year-old is somewhat unbeatable. However, the man himself has finally been usurped when it comes to goal making in Europe and his successor is not who you’d expect.
Barcelona have far from endured a poor season, but this particular campaign hasn’t exactly been their finest. After all, they seem destined to finish below Real Madrid in La Liga for the first time in half a decade.
While the Catalans are level on points at the top of the league, Los Blancos have a game in hand up their sleeve. On current form, Zinedine Zidane’s men don’t look like slipping up either.
Nevertheless, Messi has fought through the troubles and has still produced a fine individual season of his own. Besides, the term is still three games from completion and he has already improved on last year’s goal tally by 10.
In addition to this, the Argentinean talisman has contributed no less than 11 assists.
Only this weekend, Messi sent Barca fans into raptures with a brace against Villarreal and a nonchalant panenka penalty. That’s not to mention his dramatic winner at the Santiago Bernabeu just two weeks ago.
Had the entire Barcelona squad played like Messi in 2016-17, they would more than likely have the title in their hands again.
That being said, as cruel as it is to state, Messi may have stumbled in one particular area. Well, by that we mean he’s now playing second fiddle to a Premier League star as far as goal creation is concerned.
In spite of Messi’s incredible season, Kevin de Bruyne is now the top dog across Europe’s top five leagues in the assists department. The Belgian put an end to the Barcelona man’s monopoly over the statistic just this weekend.
In turning provider for Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi’s goals against Crystal Palace yesterday, De Bruyne rose to 44 assists in the league since the beginning of the 2014-15 season.
Official acknowledgement of the statistic can be seen below:
Kevin De Bruyne has now recorded 44 league assists since 2014/15; more than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues.
Incredible service. pic.twitter.com/EFKEaQMu2r
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 6, 2017
Sorry Lionel, but the title has escaped your grasp. That being said, the 29-year-old sits poised in second place with a total of 43 so could turn the tide again very quickly.
Luis Suarez is the man picking up the bronze medal with 42 and has provided more chances for his teammates this season than Messi. With 14 assists in 2016-17 he, like De Bruyne, has also been reining in the Argentine.
For all the quality of De Bruyne though, this shift in power must still come as a surprise. The Manchester City man flew out of the blocks this season and only a recent resurgence has quelled memories of a stagnant winter.
Nevertheless, the statistics don’t lie and beating Messi in anything is worthy of credit. It seems the Belgian has been going about his work quietly but with devastating efficiency.
Besides, with many citing the 5-0 win over Palace as a sign of title-winning form to come, De Bruyne will prove vital if any such run is to emerge. On his day, the midfielder is simply unstoppable.