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Opinion: 16 years after his Barcelona debut, it’s time some respect was put on Lionel Messi’s name

Not too many outside of Barcelona had a clue as to how good an impish 17-year-old would go on to be when Lionel Messi stepped onto the pitch on October 16, 2004, to make his debut for the Catalan club.

Their opponents that day were arch rivals Espanyol, and Messi came on in the 82nd minute making him, at the time, the youngest player ever to play for Barca in official competition at 17 years, three months and 22 days old.

Since then, the Argentinian has gone on to break almost every record in the book, and certainly wrote his name in 10 foot high letters at Barcelona.

His 34 trophies, so far, make him the most decorated player in their history, and he has the most assists in the Spanish league with 169 as well as the most goals (444, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo by 133).

He’s also the top scorer and assister in El Clasico matches, and is only just short of Ronaldo in goals and assists in the Champions League.

The list of Messi’s achievements, that also include records for most Ballon d’Or’s and Golden Shoes won, is almost endless.

To watch him in action live is a blessing and yet there are still those who seek to denigrate his accolades.

As an all-rounder, rather than ‘just’ a striker or attacking midfielder, he has no equal.

He is head and shoulders above any other play that has played the game in this, or any other era.

To still be looking to pore over the minutiae in order to give credence to unworthy comparisons is futile.

Put some respect on his name.

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