|Full name||Lionel Andrés Messi
|Date of birth||24 June 1987 (age 26)
|Place of birth||Rosario, Argentina
|Height||1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
|1995–2000||Newell’s Old Boys|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 01:38, 17 May 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 11 September 2013
For years, it’s been a struggle to get Lionel Messi to perform for Argentina despite his dominance over Europe at club level, but now Alejandro Sabella finally appears to have found the perfect formula.
Argentina have a true centre-forward in Gonzalo Higuain, who regularly rises to the challenge, so Sabella has decided to play Messi in a free role off the front man in order to extract his best.
It’s a decision akin to giving your best player the keys to the formation, and in 14 CONMEBOL qualifying games, the former Newell’s star hit 10 goals—one more than designated striker Higuain.
The diminutive South American is a four-time reigning Ballon d’Or winner and scored an astonishing 86 goals in the 2012 calendar year. For many, he’s the best player in world football when fit, and he’s taking in a timely amount of rest this side of Christmas.