Lionel Messi - Player Profile

King Of Europe – Lionel Messi Sets Eyes On Copa America Crown

Personal information
Full name: Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini
Date of birth: 24 June 1987
Age: 27
Place of birth: Rosario, Argentina
Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position: Forward 

Club information
Current team: Barcelona
Number: 10 

Youth career 
1995–2000: Newell's Old Boys
2000–2003: Barcelona

Senior career
2003–2004: Barcelona C 10 Appearances, 5 goals
2004–2005: Barcelona B 32 Appearances, 11 goals
2004– Barcelona 482 Appearances, 412 goals

National team
2004–2005: Argentina U20 18 Appearances, 14 goals
2007–2008: Argentina U23 5 Appearances, 2 goals
2005– Argentina 97 Appearances, 45 goals

Lionel Messi secured the 24th trophy of a remarkable career with Barcelona when they defeated Juventus 3-1 in the Champions League final in Berlin. It is an astonishing haul for an astonishing player, but at international level major honours have eluded him. And while the Champions League represents the pinnacle of the modern game in terms of quality, winning the Copa America would fill one of the few remaining voids on his packed CV.

Messi has stepped up his game to outrageous levels to play a crucial part in Barcelona's historic second treble. Now, the Argentina captain must focus all his energies into international football and a Copa America both he and the Albiceleste sorely long for. Messi has had precious little time to relax after picking up the fourth Champions League medal of his career. The day after the UEFA Champions League final, he kicked back with coffee, croissants and the iconic over-sized trophy, but almost as soon as the victory parade in Camp Nou was over, “La Pulga” (The Flea) was on the way to La Serena, Chile, where he will meet up with the rest of the Argentina team. Having gone so close to winning the World Cup last year, he must know that the Copa America is a golden chance to finally pick up silverware for the first time with the senior national team.  An ongoing trophy drought for the Albiceleste at full level cannot be considered anything else but an historical aberration. One must look back as far as 1993, no less than 22 years ago, to find the last time an Argentine captain lifted a major international trophy. Now it is the turn of a new golden generation to finally deliver.  But to triumph in the demanding Copa America, against dynamic hosts Chile, talented Brazil and Colombia—not to mention the weakened, but always fiendishly hard to beat Uruguay—will take every bit of magic the four-time Ballon d'Or winner still has left in the tank. It has been a long, punishing season for the best player in the world. But he must dig deep for one final effort as the Albiceleste go for the top prize in what will undoubtedly be a fiercely competitive month of football.

It would also help put the pain of last summer’s World Cup final defeat to Germany behind him. The 27-year-old scored four goals in Brazil but drew a blank in the final, and winning the Golden Ball came as little consolation. "Right now I do not care about anything, not about my prize, nothing,” he said at the time. “I just wanted to lift the cup and bring it to Argentina. The pain is great." Messi will have to wait until 2018 for another crack at the World Cup, but a devastating, treble-winning season with Barcelona proved there was no hangover from Brazil. In the battle to be considered the greatest player of all-time, Pele and Diego Maradona can fall back on their World Cup successes – but Messi now has the chance to become the only one of the three to win the Copa America. His performances have been dazzling throughout the season, but they have reached a deafening crescendo in recent weeks. Twelve goals in 10 games, including that mesmerising, impossible strike in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, speak of a player whose limitless talent is more apparent than ever.

Indeed, a Copa America does not compare to a World Cup, but international silverware would certainly help towards Messi’s legacy. So, what are Argentina’s chances? Not only is Messi at the peak of his powers for the Copa America, but he will be supported by the strongest squad in the tournament. The irony, of course, is that if the mood takes him, Messi can do it all on his own. Such ability almost transcends analysis, because regardless of how the opposition line-up or what is happening on the pitch; Messi can always produce a moment of individual brilliance to make the difference. Argentina’s rivals will have to hope for a repeat of their 2011 Copa America campaign, when the hosts were fortunate to scrape through the group stage before going out to Uruguay on penalties in the quarter-finals. But with Messi in full flight and with a point to prove to those who somehow continue to doubt him, the chances are they will fare rather better this time around. The 27-year-old has been accused of saving his best for Barcelona in the past, but he is hungrier than ever for international glory – and this could be his year.