The tour of Lionel messi for Barcelona forever marked the history of football. With the number 10 shirt like the cape of a superhero, the Rosario marked with fire thanks to his goals and unforgettable performances his time at the culé club. Less than a month ago, when everything seemed to indicate that his continuity in the Catalan institution was assured, something caused fate to change. The Argentine star had to stand in front of his family and his teammates and tell the world that he was leaving home.
Once that happened, the next few hours were a revolution in Messi’s life. The offer came from Paris Saint Germain, the confirmation that he would join a team full of stars and even change his number: he left 10 for 30, the one he used in his first games as a professional. Waiting for its premiere with PSG, the magazine The Economist was based on an analysis and determined that Rosario is the best scorer in the history of football in Europe.
Through a system created by the University Ku Leuven and the analysis firm SciSports To measure how each action affects a team’s goal probabilities, comparing where the ball was before and after a player touched it, it was found that the Argentine star was the most influential soccer player bound for the rival goal. Between the 2012 and 2020 seasons, his model estimates that Messi would have increased the scoring margin of an average team by 1.77 goals per game.. For its part, Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo’s former rival at Real Madrid, came in second on the list with 1.43.
Beyond the historical rivalry between the Argentine striker and the Portuguese attacker, the analysis wanted to go further and focus on the comparison with other great players of the 20th century. According to The Economist, “the only data available for all European leagues before 2000 is the goals scored and the results of the matches. And not all goals are the same: scoring rates fell dramatically between 1950 and 1970, and goals are easier to get in the weaker leagues. “
In this way, to establish a level for the analysis, an exchange rate was designed that they called “Equivalent modern soccer score index”. What is its format? For each season in each league, the average number of goals per game and the strength of the team were used, as measured by the system. Elo, which rates clubs based on their results and the quality of their opponents, to estimate how many goals the players would have scored under different playing conditions.
Under these parameters, for example, Eusebio He played in the 1960s in a weak and scoring Portuguese league. This is why his goals are worth 37% less than those of the Spanish league in the 2004-2021 period. At the same time, The article in the English publication praised what Diego Maradona did during his stay in Napoli. “He faced strong Italian defenses, which made his goals worth 5% more than the modern baseline,” says the report, while noting that they excluded penalty goals because they increase the statistics of some more forwards. than others.
It was for these adjustments that Messi stands out above the competition. In his prime, he averaged a goal every 90 minutes. Ronaldo reached 0.9; while the greats of old times were below 0.8, as indicated by the graph. The Economist establishes that these reports underestimate footballers of Maradona’s tenor and even himself Johan cruyff, who had a function on the court as creators of the game in addition to their shots on goal in the search to score. The same thing that happened with the value of defenders like that of Franz beckenbauer, a key piece for Germany in the 70s.
At the end of the analysis, the article refers to the fact that the data obtained by Messi could not be comparable with those obtained in the last years of Ferenc Puskas because Elo system ratings do not exist for post-war Hungarian leagues. The same happened with the data for Brazil or America, where Pelé, considered the best player of the 20th century, wore the Santos or Cosmos jersey in US soccer.
At the conclusion of the essay, the report indicates that “only half of Messi’s value comes from his shots on goal, and that La Pulga is also an extraordinary dribbler and passer.