Is Lionel Messi at risk of burning out?
Lionel Messi carries the weight of his club and his country on his shoulders. (Getty Images)
November 25th, 2013
04:20 PM ET

Is Lionel Messi at risk of burning out?

After nearly 400 games, and over 300 goals, is Lionel Messi suffering from burn out?

I first met and interviewed Messi in December 2005, almost eight years ago.

I recall thinking, if reports of his phenomenal talent are even half true, this teenager could go on to enjoy a top-flight career spanning the best part of twenty years.

And so it’s transpired. Messi has scored an awful lot of goals.

But is that still the case?

At the age of 26, just as he is supposed to be entering his peak, why does the four-time world player of the year keep getting injured?

The South American’s latest setback – a fresh injury to the hamstring which went earlier this month – will likely see him out of action until after Christmas.

It’s his second injury of the campaign having earlier bruised his left thigh. Last season he missed several key games – most notably against Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in the latter stages of the European Champions League – with an earlier hamstring complaint.

This is a crucial stage in the Argentine's career - especially with the World Cup just seven months away.

Messi’s recent run of injuries has come as something of a surprise. Since 2008, when Messi was out of action for six weeks due to a left leg muscle tear, it’s been relatively smooth sailing.

Much work has been done behind the scenes with Barcelona physio Juanjo Brau, who worked around the clock to ensure the Catalans' biggest asset was in mint condition.

During the Pep Guardiola era, Brau - who no longer works day-to-day with Messi following a promotion - tried to curb the player’s natural explosiveness on the field of play.

The goal to some extent has been to limit Messi’s work-rate, maximizing his all–round effectiveness and impact.

To that end, it’s reported the player’s diet and sleeping patterns were closely scrutinized and then revamped.

An injury-free Messi, under the stewardship of Guardiola, led Barca through a golden period in which the club secured four Spanish championships and two European Cups.

Opportunities for rest have been few and far between.

Constant globetrotting can't have helped him much either, not to mention the unwanted distractions of his recent tax case.

For his sake and the good of all around him Messi needs a temporary breather from the game. This enforced absence may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

I don't doubt Barca will miss Messi. But this is one break he needs badly. His natural passion for the game – some might argue obsession – is something that must be curbed for his own sake.

Even Messi’s fitness coach Fernando Signorini concedes as much, saying someone simply has to “set limits” for the player.

The team will be fine without him for a short while.

It will be a chance for Brazil star Neymar to take center stage and shine as he grows into life at the Camp Nou.

Like Neymar, who will be Brazil’s brightest star when the country hosts the World Cup next year, Messi carries an extra burden when he pulls on his national jersey.

So often over the years Messi been compared to the legendary Diego Maradona - living with the almost constant accusation that he doesn't perform for the Albiceleste as he does for Barcelona.

The pressure on him going into Brazil 2014 as captain of Argentina is huge. To handle it Messi must be fully fit, well-rested and raring to go.

Messi himself is rightly playing it cool saying he won’t rush himself back into action. He told Argentina’s “Ole” sports newspaper he would only return to football when he’s fully recovered.

The forward added his recent spate of injuries is down to bad luck and he admits his misfortune has left him “sad and angry.”

As Messi kicks his heels on the road to recovery, another La Liga superstar continues to bask in the limelight.

Cristiano Ronaldo looks a shoe-in to land the coveted Ballon d’Or this year even though – unlike Messi – the Portuguese will end 2013 without a trophy.

He’s been scoring for fun for Los Blancos, Ronaldo has an incredible 35 goals in his last 25 appearances, but it’s his form for his country that suggests a growing maturity on the international stage.

His one–man demolition of Sweden really does say it all. He scored four goals over two legs to drag his compatriots all the way to Brazil, including a devastating hat-trick in Stockholm.

CR7 now has 10 goals in nine matches for Portugal in 2013. That’s the first time he’s ever reached double digits for his country in a calendar year.

The stage is now well and truly set for Ronaldo to have the tournament of his life in South America next year.

A fully-fit Messi raring to go in Brazil coming face to face with Ronaldo’s Portugal? Now that’s something I personally can’t wait for.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. perrizi

    Reblogged this on perrizi and commented:
    definitely needs a rest

    November 25, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  2. MIFTAHUL HUDA

    Reblogged this on PUHHAC.

    November 25, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  3. Tom

    NEYMAR!!!!!!!!

    November 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  4. Jaime B. Urroz

    The answer to your most important question, namely why would someone like Messi be on the way down, rather than up at the age of 26 is already in your article, but you just don't have the actual facts to strenghten your point. I do, At 26, every extraterrestrial soccer player since the game was invented , was on the way down, as an extraterrestrial, that is. Contemplate, if you must, what happened to the only other three who have played the game so extraterrestrially (LOL) Pele, the first, and the best of the four, at 26, thought he could still play basically the same game, and met with almost ridicule, frankly, at the 1966 World Cup. They not just knew how to stop him, after all, seven years had passed since he became an extreterrestrial, LOL, but 8 out of 10 times, he was neutralized, anyway you choose, but they did, which is enough at that level. So what did Pele do? At first he told the world he'd had enough, but somehow, in the next three years he must have found inspiration as he shaved, seeing something there, in his reflection becaise by 1970, he was not the same Pele I saw, every week , from 1958 to 1965. The real extreterrestrial. Same with Maradona, after 1982, and with R9, after 1998. They came bvack with a somewhat different style of play, in 1970, 1986 and 2002 and you know what heppened. Now, if all those three, superior in physique, speed, and overall genious to Messi, the fourth extretarrestrial, if they could NOt keep being extraterrestrial, why would Messi be any different? He has to change his style, forget about the diagonal runs, with the ball, that's already a play everyone knows how to counteract. Forget about the Messi of 2009, 2010, 2011, not the 2014 WC, anyways. His seven year period as an extraterrestrial ended in late 2012. If he wants to win the World Cup for Argentina, he better come up with an alternative, both for himself, and for the team. I sgguest to you he be the playmaker who is so good that like Maradona, in the 1986 final, can afford the luxury of not scoring even once. But he had the three assists that day in Mexico City...

    November 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  5. Miguel

    I do not think that Cristiano scored a hat trick against Sweden in Copenhagen...

    November 25, 2013 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • Lax

      do u watch football aka soccer? ronaldo scored a hatrick against sweden n the whole world knows it except u..

      November 29, 2013 at 9:49 am | Reply
  6. brunt11

    "His one–man demolition of Sweden really does say it all. He scored four goals over two legs to drag his compatriots all the way to Brazil, including a devastating hat-trick in Copehagen."

    Do you mean in Stockholm? Copenhagen is in Denmark.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm | Reply
    • yowe

      Brunt11 can u read? where did the writer mentioned Copenhagen go through the article again

      December 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  7. Andy

    Needs to be carefully managed. Especially in build-up to Brazil.

    November 25, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  8. Michael

    Contrary to what was written, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against the Swedish National Team at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, not in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    November 25, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  9. Bruno Miranda

    Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick did, in fact, happen... but in Solna, Sweden... although I'm quite sure people in Copenhagen, Denmark, made no case of the devastation that struck their "beloved" neighbours

    November 26, 2013 at 1:17 am | Reply
  10. Fizer

    i thing his join MU side ?

    November 26, 2013 at 5:20 am | Reply
  11. jsinnottcnnCNN

    Many thanks for pointing out Ronaldo scored hat-trick in Stockholm. We have corrected the story.

    November 26, 2013 at 10:36 am | Reply
  12. daniel

    Messi will lead Argentina to semi-final at least next year....

    November 27, 2013 at 2:46 am | Reply
  13. ASHUKEM

    to me Ronaldo is just doing what he knows best and for messi i doubt if he ever be the messi he useto be in the last 4seasons

    December 4, 2013 at 7:38 am | Reply
  14. Engr Obasuyi Michael

    Reblogged this on BlognetBase.

    December 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  15. Dr.D Cajetan Coelho

    Leo is doing fine. He is a team man. He will go far. There is lot more to come from the Argentine super star.

    March 1, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  16. morgan

    No one is best to beat messi. he will not burn out. by golf cart rentals dealer from Tampa,FL.

    April 2, 2014 at 7:48 am | Reply

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