Lionel Messi’s most recent injury, a tear to his left hamstring that will keep him out for eight weeks, makes you wonder if his recurring injuries will permanently affect his career.
The injury-prone label is thrown around quickly in sports, and Messi might have landed himself on that list by now, and deservedly so. His current injury is already his third of the season — all leg-related. Suffering freak injuries that don’t necessarily imply re-injury is one thing, but Messi’s injuries always seem to be of the same nature. And that’s concerning for his legacy considering his injuries don’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
When Messi was 11, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Today, he stands five-foot-seven. His physical shortcomings haven’t stopped him from becoming the world’s current greatest footballer, and with the potential of becoming the best ever. However, his growth hormone deficiency might be the cause for his problematic leg injuries.
Messi relies on his explosiveness and powerful legs to speed through and past defenders. Without their full power, he can’t be the Messi who has the chance to go down as the greatest ever. He is aware of the problem, and his father, who has played an integral role in Messi’s career, recently voiced his concern too. “The injuries have meant that Leo really fears a relapse,” said Jorge Messi. “But you can be relaxed, he will return.” Just five days after his father’s confident prediction, Messi tore his left hamstring in a league match against Real Betis, a match Barcelona won 4-1.
This time around, Messi should dedicate plenty of time to recovering fully before stepping back onto the pitch. His teammates echo that sentiment as well. Cesc Fábregas, who scored two second-half goals in the win, talked about the difficulties surrounding the type of injuries Messi is dealing with. “You think you are fine, but then you are not. I had that injury, and it is a very annoying injury. He must rest for the time he needs, or it will not heal properly.”
While it’s a good thing that Messi isn’t dealing with major knee problems, which are career-threatening, the almost systematic recurrence of his upper-leg injuries suggest they will remain weak points. If he were to never play another match in his life, he already holds a place in soccer history. But should he put his injury concerns behind him, there is little stopping him from becoming the best the game has ever seen.