ESPN Study Highlights How Lionel Messi Is Nearly Three Times Better Than Any Other Player
Just how good is Lionel Messi at playing football? Well, ESPN took it upon themselves to collect new data that shows just how good the pint-sized Argentine is.
The study put together centres around the expected goals (xG) metric - and expected goals on target (xGOT), which are both linked.
For further information, here is the description statistical gurus Opta provides:
"The Expected Goals on Target model is built on historical on-target shots and includes the original xG of the shot as well as the goalmouth location where the shot ended up. It gives more credit to shots that end up in the corners compared to shots that go straight down the middle of the goal. This model is for on-target shots, given that if you don't get your shot on target, there's a 0% chance that it will result in a goal."
It might seem a little complex to understand at first but ESPN's Ryan O'Hanlon breaks it down a little more.
He writes: "For the most part, the best teams and players aren't the best because of their ability to finish a high percentage of attempts; they're the best because of their ability to generate a high volume of high-quality shots.
"In other words, it puts a number on the idea that you hear managers talk about every weekend: Who created the better chances?"
In using TruMedia data, and specifically xG and xGOT numbers for the past five seasons, ESPN have been able to find out which players have added the most value to their efforts on goal and ultimately provide numbers on Messi's magic.
In total, Messi has 177 goals for club and country since 2014 and has added 32.6 goals worth of value on his 900 attempts, compared to second-placed Valencia captain Dani Parejo on 12.53.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, has attempted 1005 shots - more than anyone else in the last five years but his wayward efforts have been so unsuccessful means he has been subtracted 3.07 goals.
Messi's 120 goals from open play are more than than anyone else - 12 more than his strike partner Luis Suarez- leading to 109.29 xGOT.
The 32-year old has added 19.34 goals worth of value in this department, compared to Mo Salah on 11.23 and Alexis Sanchez on 10.02.
Free-kicks are of course a speciality for Messi and having scored a staggering 21 from dead-ball situations since 2014, his xGOT is 21.71 and he has also added 10.35 goals worth of value to his set-pieces.
Officially the king of scoring from outside the box, the Barcelona captain has 16 strikes from distance, again topping the list after adding 6.04 worth of value to long-range open play shots.
And finally, to underline his completeness, Messi has completed 300 through balls since 2014 - 127 more than the next player - while he's also the top assister and the second best dribbler according to the stats.
It's too bad, he's too good.