Lionel Messi's achievements cannot yet be fully appreciated
This is a profile of Lionel Messi, who is part of ESPN's World Fame 100.
We are not yet fully aware of the place that Lionel Messi has already carved for himself in the history of football. The scale of his achievements will be better appreciated after he retires from the sport.
With his daily feats, Barcelona's star generates a false belief that it is simple to leave opponents behind, to assist when there's a wall in front, or to score using all possible resources. We are so used to seeing him shine that there's almost no room for surprise. Big mistake. We should never stop marveling at the gifts of the chosen.
He improves his teammates with his presence, and his absence disrupts his teams. La Pulga's influence is superlative. In fact, when he announced that he would retire from Argentina's national team after losing the Copa America final in 2016, there was an immediate movement to bring him back.
It goes without saying that athletes who reach such an elite level are judged by everything they do, both on and off the pitch. His personal life is scrutinized by reporters, fans and the general public. But Messi has largely kept away from scandal and formed a family with his wife and their three children.
The player from Rosario, who's about to turn 31, has opened up a bit more on social media than he had done with the press. With approximately 90 million followers on Facebook and Instagram, Leo now shares intimate pictures with his loved ones.
Fans idolize him. Barcelona are forced to improve his contracts and raise his buyout clauses in order to keep him. Sponsors fight for his image rights. And even as the years go by, he keeps playing better.
Nicolas Baier is senior editor based in Buenos Aires at ESPN.com/ Latin America. Nico is in charge of coverage of the Argentine National Team. Follow him on Twitter @NicolasBaier