Among all of the traits that a professional football player must possess, speed is without a doubt paramount among them, as it’s a necessity in nearly every position and at every stage of the game. One of the fastest players in the sport is Lionel Messi, but just exactly how fast is he?
Lionel Messi has been recorded running as fast as 32.5 km/h and is one of the fastest players in the world at that speed. Most importantly is the ability to maintain that speed even when in possession of the ball.
With a speed like that, Messi could almost be a sprinter if he wanted to. Surprisingly, despite his status as one of the greatest of all time, he’s not even the fastest.
There are quite a few players who are faster than him, perhaps even fast enough to rival the likes of famous sprinter Usain Bolt! It’s safe to say though that none are as simultaneously skilled and fast,
A Bullet With A Ball
Acceleration, sprint speed, and ball control are all factors that are important to a professional football player that is playing at the level Messi plays at. The maintenance of ball control in particular will tend to diminish with increased speed for most players.
Lionel Messi isn’t most players, however. As we’ve seen time and time again, when Messi gets control of the ball, it’s almost as if he’s a videogame character that has just received some kind of powerup.
Instead of getting slower, Messi will increase in speed, propelling forward with the ball at an even faster rate than he was running at previously. In the above clip as one example, you’ll see players that don’t have the ball sprinting as fast as they can go in an attempt to keep up with Messi, leaving almost no space for them to even attempt to intercept him.
We’ve had a look at his total speed, but perhaps even more important to Messi’s particular skill set is his ability to change speed and direction.
You all know what it means to dribble the ball, but exactly what is it that makes Messi so special at doing so? Well, the overall speed that we’ve covered is obviously one of the biggest contributors to his near-superhuman abilities, the other being how quickly he can reach that speed.
Just imagine having to deal with that combination of traits in an opposing player. Not only are you going to be struggling to catch up with their inhuman speed, but you’re also going to have to accurately predict and keep up with their changes in direction and momentum.
For most players, those kinds of sudden changes would severely impact their overall movement capabilities, forcing them to readjust and leave them vulnerable. Not so for Messi, however, who can seemingly go from zero all the back to full speed in what feels like the blink of an eye.
There’s been a lot of speculation about what exactly it is that separates Messi from the rest of his peers in his abilities. From genetics to training methods, to simple good old fashioned hard work, whatever the special ingredient is that makes Messi who he still remains a mystery.
With insane sprint speeds and lightning-fast acceleration, how exactly does he manage to keep the ball with him at all times? Well, that’s where Messi’s secret truly lies.
Other people have described Messi as a genius, and it’s true. The control that Messi has is the last piece of the holy trifecta that makes up his game, and genius is the only way to describe it.
It’s unfathomable how he manages to maintain such smooth control of the ball despite operating at those high speeds. If he was a street magician, and his dribbling was the act, you’d expect observers to be checking to see if there was a wire keeping the ball attached to his foot somehow.
That’s the degree to which he can keep control of the ball while sprinting at nearly his full speed, it’s almost as if it’s by magic. Perhaps one day in the future we’ll see someone who comes close to maintaining the same kind of control and speed as Messi, but for now, it seems he’s one of a kind.