One of the many skills that have made Lionel Messi such a successful soccer player is his overall speed. During his prime, he was referred to by many as one of the fastest players in soccer. He’s so fast that many put him up amongst the all-time greats.
As fast as he might be, detractors will say that it’s hard to measure just how fast he is compared to others in actual play. Fortunately, technology has made this part of the debate easier to measure.
How Fast is Lionel Messi? In his prime, Lionel Messi could reach top speeds of just over 20 MPH. This would only be in short spurts, as most soccer players don’t go on super long sprints during a match. His prime speed has him rated as one of the 15 fastest soccer players in professional history.
Lionel Messi’s Speed vs. Quickness
It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between speed and quickness in sports. Messi had one of the fastest sprint times during his prime, but he is just as known for his quickness. Some players have one or the other, but Messi possesses both.
His low center of gravity allows him to shift direction and knife through the defense. He’s found openings in the past that no one else can pull off. Highlight reels tend to show off his quickness more than his pure speed.
Lionel Messi’s Speed With and Without the Ball
Throw Usain Bolt into a soccer match and have him sprint around, and he will be the fastest player on the pitch. Make him dribble the ball while he’s running, and he becomes slow.
The best soccer players not only have top-end speed without the ball, but they can dribble at a high speed as well.
Messi‘s outstanding dribbling skills contribute to making him look faster than he is from a raw speed perspective. He might not be able to out-sprint everyone on the pitch, but he can still compete with anyone sprinting while dribbling. Some pundits believe that he’s the best pure dribbler in soccer history.
Does Messi Have Any Speed Disadvantages?
If there is a disadvantage for Lionel Messi from a speed perspective, it has to be his height. Even by soccer standards, he is very short at a generous 5’7” tall. Many people believe that he could be an inch or two smaller than his listed height.
Short players generally have short legs, which means that Messi can’t cover the same amount of distance with each stride. He’s able to reach top speed faster because of his short legs, but any long runs will be limited to a certain degree.
The only other speed disadvantage he has is related to his age. Now in his late 30s, he can’t be the fastest player in the sport. Even in his prime, few thought he was the fastest. There are a lot of miles on those legs, and minor injuries pile up and make older players lose a little bit of speed.
What Does FIFA Think of Lionel Messi’s Speed?
Now that he is getting up there in age a bit, Lionel Messi only has a speed rating of 85 on FIFA 23. His rating has been much higher in the past, but it shows that he’s not a top-tier speedster in play right now.
What still makes him one of the most dangerous players in the game virtually? His skill ratings are very high, getting a 95 or better in dribbling, ball control, and finishing. He also has great acceleration and agility making him sometimes appear faster than he is.
Messi’s been a huge favorite in FIFA games over the years. Different cards are released to highlight stages of his career. Even if his current day card is trending down, there will be at least a few Ultimate Team cards each year with prime Messi.
Who are the Fastest Soccer Players Ever?
It’s very hard to correctly analyze the speed of players too far back due to a lack of technology. There are plenty of people who can say someone was extremely fast, but it’s hard to directly compare to the modern game.
As far as actual measuring is concerned, Arjen Robben, Alphonso Davies, Kylian Mbappe, Erling Halland, and Theo Walcott all have some claim to the “fastest soccer player ever” title.
Robben has the fastest speed ever recorded in a professional match, reaching 23 mph. He reached this speed on the biggest of stages during the 2014 World Cup against Spain.
If we disregard the retired players such as Robben, Alphonso Davies is the fastest soccer player in the world after reaching 22.7 mph while playing for Bayern Munchen.
How Does Messi Compare To Actual Sprinting Speed?
Lionel Messi might be fast, but professional sprinters are at another level. They can put up insane speed numbers since they train to do exactly that. They also benefit from running on a track and having spikes on for the best traction.
Usain Bolt, considered the best sprinter ever, can reach a top-end speed of around 27.8 MPH. this would make Messi, or any soccer player for that matter, look pretty slow.
Why Messi’s Speed Made a Difference
Without world-class speed, Lionel Messi would not be in the running for the greatest soccer player of all time. He probably would’ve had a hard time playing high-level professional soccer.
Speed is a very important skill to have, especially for those looking to create all fans. It’s not the only amazing physical skill Messi has, but the weapon in his prime made a huge difference.