Lionel Messi Is a Lock for His Third Consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Or

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona holds the Ballon d'Or trophy prior to the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis Balompie at Camp Nou on January 15, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

With all due respect to Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi is simply on another level to any other footballer in the world—and he's a sure thing to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or for the third year in a row.

What can we possibly say about Messi that hasn't already been said?

Leave it to the retired Jan Åge Fjørtoft to put things in perspective for us.

He quotes Messi's Barcelona teammate, Gerard Pique:

Pique: - Ronaldo might be the best player in the world, but only amongst humans. Lionel Messi is an alien.

— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) November 18, 2012

Maybe he's right, because what Messi is doing in 2012 is as close to super-human as we've ever seen.

He's found the back of the net at least twice in eight matches this season.

While that's impressive, it only begins to scratch the surface of why Messi is on a collision course with the Ballon d'Or once again.

From one of the great sources of random FC Barcelona facts and stats, BarcaStuff:

Lionel Messi has scored 50 goals in the 33 Spanish league games he has so far played in the year 2012 #fcblive [via opta]

— barcastuff (@barcastuff) November 17, 2012

Messi has been directly involved in more than 100 goals in only 61 games played in 2012: 66 goals and 22 assists in 52 games for FC Barcelona; 12 goals and one assist in nine games for Argentina.

Those 66 goals for FC Barcelona find Messi tied with one of the all-time greats in the history of the sport:

Lionel Messi has yesterday equalled Pele's personal record of 66 club goals in a calendar year #fcblive [via @messi10stats]

— barcastuff (@barcastuff) November 18, 2012

He's already surpassed Pele for second place on the most goals scored in a calendar year, and now finds himself sitting only seven goals behind the 30-year-old record for most goals in a calendar year—85—set by the legendary Gerd Muller in 1972:

Infographic: Most goals per calendar year for club+country twitter.com/MessiStats/sta… Muller 85 - Messi 78 - Pele 75 [by @messistats]

— barcastuff (@barcastuff) November 18, 2012

There's little doubt—or room for debate—that Lionel Messi is the best in the world.

Finishing second to Messi isn't anything to be ashamed of—it's an accomplishment to even be mentioned in the same breath as someone who will go down in history as one of the all-time greats that the game has ever seen.