Leo Messi is without a shadow of a doubt one of, if not the single greatest player to ever play the game. While there have been stumbling blocks for La Pulga throughout his career, none have been so prominent as the one he faces right now.
A stat published by ‘The xG Philosophy’ indicates that Messi’s xG (expected goals) from open play is 4.33. However, the Barcelona captain has only managed to net one goal that was not from the penalty spot.
While Messi’s xG underperformance is the highest in La Liga, his numbers fall short to Moussa Dembele of Lyon. The Ligue 1 striker has an open play xG of 3.89 but is yet to score once this season.
While a singular statistic can only go so far as to determine things on the pitch, the fact that Messi’s career seems to be on a downward slope seems further proven by the fact that this is his worst individual performance since the start of the season in 15 years.
Though the Argentinian has not been directly involved in setting up, as well as scoring the goals as much he has in previous seasons, there is reason to believe that Ronald Koeman is indeed preparing Barcelona for a future without Messi.
Imbibing a team spirit into the players rather than have them turn to their captain to pull them out of danger all the time is something that should have been done long ago. However, it is not too late to make amends now, and that is exactly what Koeman seems up to.
The Dutch tactician has rested Messi, as well as Frenkie de Jong for Barcelona’s Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev. With the fixtures coming thick and fast, it is important that the coach takes care of his prized assets.
Relying on the other world-class players to deal with the clash midweek could be a great way to take a step further on the project of building Barcelona back to a team.