Lionel Messi is one of a kind and we may never see the likes of him again.
The Argentine superstar has scored a scarcely believable 602 goals for Barcelona – a sensational scoring rate rivalled only by Cristiano Ronaldo.
But a team of Spanish data analysts have done some number crunching to find out which player in world football is most similar to Messi … and it isn’t Ronaldo.
Madrid-based company Driblab have analysed 71,600 players from 2,300 teams, across 73,000 games in the following areas: participation in the play, goals scored per shots taken, expected goals per game, shots taken, touches in the opposition’s box, expected assists per game, key passes, times the ball is lost, pressing and completed shots.
And their findings have revealed that the closet thing to Messi is Eden Hazard.
That’s right, the Chelsea forward apparently has a 92.7% likeness to Messi’s playing style, while Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappé and Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero are 91.3% and 91.1% respectively.
Hazard actually posted better numbers than Messi in three areas – fewer balls lost, pressing and completed dribbles.
Meanwhile, the young players named as most similar to Messi are PSV’s Steven Bergwijn, Viitorul Constanta midfielder Ianis Hagi, Barcelona duo Ousmane Dembélé and Malcom, and AZ’s Oussama Idrissi.
Real Madrid have been strongly linked with a summer swoop for Hazard, with reports suggesting the Belgian could move to the Spanish capital following the Europa League final.
Los Blancos have already had Ronaldo, and it seems they could be about to get their own Messi too.