By the Blouin News Sports staff

Lionel Messi is not messing around

by in Soccer.

A picture taken on December 16, 2012 shows Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrating after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. Messi has agreed on December 18, 2012 to renew his contract with FC Barcelona until June 2018.

26-year-old three-time world player of the year, and all-time single season record goal scorer Lionel Messi just inked a deal with Barcelona that will keep him with the squad through 2018.

The Argentine forward has already achieved more than most athletes achieve in their entire careers. He is captain of his country’s national football team and is Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorer. Many consider Messi the best player in the world—a claim he helped justify by becoming the only player in the history of the UEFA Champions League to score five goals in one match.

Lionel Messi’s style of play is intriguing because of his physical stature. At just five-foot-seven-inches tall, Messi stands well below his average opponent.

This is, perhaps, precisely the source of Messi’s advantage. He is able to stay low to the ground, avoid most tackles and power through defenders with his strong legs and quick feet. Additionally, Messi was gifted with being left-footed—giving him a natural advantage over the right-footed majority of his opponents.

Commonly, ultra-skilled players like Messi attract massive double-teams on defense and force bad shots or passes out of the attack. However, Messi is as well known for his dribbling and shot-taking ability as he is for his vision and pass-making ability—making him almost impossible to guard.

Messi has, and deservedly so, been thrown into the conversation of being the all-time great footballer at any position. This is a conversation that contains few others; Pelé, Diego Maradona and Messi himself would most likely round out the list.

There is a lot of time for Messi to continue his run for the unofficial title of best footballer ever, but there’s certainly a lot left for him to achieve. Leading his country to a World Cup would help his cause, an achievement Pelé netted three times.

The table is set for Messi, and it will be an exciting time watching his already hall-of-famed career proceed before our eyes.