Lionel Messi is the best player in Spain. It’s not being said by Barcelona fans or teammates or club authorities but as per a study released by the Centre for Research on History and Statistics of Spanish Football (CIHEFE). The study claims Messi is the best player to have graced Spanish football in the 86 years or since 1929.
The Argentine striker is followed by former Real Madrid forward and captain Raul Gonzalez who spent 16 years at the club – from 1994 to 2010, reported Spanish agency Efe.
The study, prepared by researcher Jose Antonio Ortega, is based on multiple criteria such as the players’ minutes played each season, goals and even how many times they were sent off. The sample data amassed 9,280 players, including 854 goalkeepers who have appeared in La Liga games over nearly 90 years.
Former Barcelona player Cesar Rodriguez (1941-1960) came third, ahead of fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao star Telmo Zarra (1940-1957) while fifth place went to Enrique Castro ‘Quini’ who played for Sporting Gijon and Barcelona between 1968 and 1987.
Messi tops the charts in terms of goals scored to be the only player to have scored over 300 goals for Barcelona. His tally currently stands at 349 goals. The Argentine superstar tops the list with 545 points ahead of Raul (528), Caesar (524), Zarra (493) and Quini (488).
If we are to solve the Messi vs Ronaldo debate using the study as reference, then the Portuguese has much to do. He is currently in 17th position with 415 points even though he is the second highest goal scorer in La Liga history with 285 goals.
The minimum point to be included in the list was that the players should have spent 10 seasons playing at one or two clubs with some of them even representing just one club.