Lionel Messi - The Football Index Performance Buzz King? Passing Stats v Neymar and Ronaldo
Even though Performance Buzz on the Football Index is still relatively new, there is one player who is already starting to stand out. And that player is none other than Lionel Messi.
As arguably the greatest player of all time, we shouldn't be surprised by this information. But as someone who, before Performance Buzz was introduced, actually represented fairly poor value in terms of his Media Buzz returns.
With a mere 8 Media Buzz wins to his name Messi pales in comparison to his superstar rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar who currently have 35 wins each. The fact is, Messi's clean cut image in comparison to the other two has meant that even producing incredible returns on the pitch, the media attention has usually fallen elsewhere.
We only need to look at his price graph from 12 months ago to see the lack of interest in owning Messi with a price languishing well below £1.50. Even taking into account the general rise in prices across the board over the past year, he's remained well below the value that a player of his ability should demand.
But that has all changed thanks to the introduction of Performance Buzz. Is it finally time for Messi to show who is the boss?
With four games played under the Performance Buzz period, Messi has waltzed his way to two best player victories and three best forward. This may not be impressive in itself from a small sample size, but what is very telling is the scores delivered.
In those two games he has returned two of the highest scores of any player and has already smashed home a score of over 300 points. Only the freakishly high score from John Stones in the Champions League vs Feyenoord has bettered him.
To put that into perspective, his score of 316 points from his 40 minute hat-trick vs Espanyol is a whopping 80 points more than Neymar gained in the 6-2 drubbing of Toulouse.
If we analyse those games Neymar scored points for 2 goals and 2 assists which totalled 100 points. Messi on the other hand grabbed 120 for his hat-trick along with that all important winning goal 40 point bonus for scoring the opening strike.
In most other areas, the two are quite close however there is perhaps one area in which Messi also has the edge and that's in passing. Despite making less passes, he had a much better accuracy of 85% completing 47 of his 55. Neymar on the other hand attempted 64 but misplaced 16 of them only completing 75%.
With players who score a lot of goals on a routine basis, it could well be that passing accuracy is the fine margin that separates them.
In the case of Messi v Neymar in our two highlighted matches, it's a difference of -15 points. When you consider that Neymar attempted 9 more passes, to come away with a negative points difference of -15 shows that more isn't always a good thing.
Of course if we talk about Messi and Neymar, there is one other name who must surely be taken into consideration...
We're talking about Messi's arch nemesis, the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo. So let's pick out a comparable game from recent times and see how his points would have stacked up.
We've picked out the 3-0 Champions League Semi-Final from last season versus league rivals Atletico Madrid. In this game, Ronaldo helped himself to a hat-trick and so we already have a level score with Messi in the goals department.
If we then take a look at the passing stats, we can instantly see a massive difference. As someone who is seen as a more selfish player it's perhaps unsurprising to see that Ronaldo made a mere 28 passes and misplaced 4 of them. This is around half the numbers from Messi and Neymar.
There is also a fairly significant difference in the number of crosses with just a single one to Ronaldo's name compared to 4 and 6 from Messi and Neymar respectively.
Combined, this equates to a difference of 24 extra points for Messi when it comes to his link up play with team mates.
Of course, none of these three superstars are going to be notching hat-tricks every week - even if it often feels like they do! But that perhaps makes looking at the other main scoring areas as a suggestion of how they might sneak out those extra wins.
So let's take a look at a few other games to see if this pattern of passing and crossing is a consistent factor regardless of goals being scored.
We've taken the last 3 league games plus their midweek Champions League ties and it's fairly safe to say these 3 are nothing if not consistent in the numbers they produce! Two things perhaps stand out the most: The huge amount of passes that Neymar attempts per game and the low number that Ronaldo supplies. Meanwhile Messi sits around 50-60 per game.
However, with that high number of attempts from Neymar, he also delivers a rather wasteful number too. This is somewhat counteracted by the number of crosses per game he swings in and in this sample of data, would have actually earned him the highest average overall passing score despite having the lowest pass completion percentage were it not for the Celtic game.
Ronaldo meanwhile averages less than half of Neymar's passing score which is a full 21 points less - the equivalent of 2 assists each game.
Of course, when it comes to Performance Buzz goals are still the key area which will decide most days. But when we have three players who are all prolific in front of goal, it's perhaps worth considering the wider style of play of each player.
This suggests Messi looks to be the most consistent and safest player in this regard. Will it be enough to truly claim him as the Football Index Performance Buzz king? Only time will tell but so far, the signs are promising indeed.