Lionel Messi

Soccer phenom

Messi's place in soccer's pantheon was secure long before Dec. 9, the day he notched his 86th goal of 2012. But by breaking the 40-year-old record for the most goals in a calendar year, the star of Argentina and FC Barcelona strengthened the case made by those--like this writer--who regard him as the sport's greatest player ever. At 25, he has already shattered scoring records against some of soccer's toughest competition, but sticklers will cavil that Messi can't be called the greatest ever until he wins the World Cup. His shot at that prize will come in 2014, when the tournament...

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