Lionel Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever grace a football field.

He has dazzled time and again, with his on-ball skills some of the best the world has ever seen. His glittering runs, mind-blowing dribbles, and stunning goals have left mouths agape of fans and fellow players alike.

One of the trademark features of Messi’s game is his incredible dribbling skills, ability to dodge and weave around defenders. The famous goal he scored against Bayern Munich in the Champions League went viral after he sat Jerome Boateng on his rear end with an indefensible dribble, marking comparisons to diminutive Argentinian legend Diego Maradona.

Messi’s ability to weave through traffic is largely thanks to his size, which is notably small for a professional athlete. Often, he’s matched up against significantly taller defenders, and while that can hinder him in certain areas, it also presents a unique opportunity, of which Messi takes full advantage.

🔵🔴 Messi masterclass, 5 years years ago today 🔥#UCL | #OTD | @FCBarcelona

How tall is Lionel Messi?

Messi stands 5ft, 7in tall, or 1.70m.

On the PSG website, his official bio also tabs Messi’s weight at 72kg, or 159lbs.

According to an aggregation of 2020 studies, Messi stands just a few centimeters below the average height for an Argentine male, which is calculated as about 1.74m.

As a result of his stature, Messi is not known for a physical style of play, instead using his low center of gravity to play a more free-flowing game, dribbling through and around defenders with relative ease.

Lionel Messi and growth hormone deficiency

When Messi was just 11 years old, as a youth player for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys, he was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD), which can affect the height of an individual. Messi was just 4ft, 2in (1.27m) at the time of his diagnosis.

The treatment for this was daily hormone injections, which began in January of 1998, and Messi said became routine, “like cleaning my teeth.”

This directly affected Messi’s club future. According to Messi’s father Jorge, as quoted in a profile of Messi by The Independent, Newell’s Old Boys had originally promised to pay for the extremely expensive treatment, but after Argentina’s economy collapsed later in 1998, the club backed out of the deal.

The club contests the extent of Jorge Messi’s accusations, but did not deny that they could not cover the entire cost of the treatment.

While Newell’s Old Boys couldn’t pay, Spanish club Barcelona stepped up, and eventually, Messi made the move to Catalonia. The rest is history.

Lionel Messi’s nickname

Messi’s diminutive stature has also contributed to his nickname, “La Pulga,” or “The Flea” in English.

According to GOAL, it’s believed that Messi’s siblings referred to him initially as “La Pulgita,” or “Little Flea,” which eventually transformed into simply “La Pulga.” Occasionally, this evolved into “La Pulga Atomica,” or “The Atomic Flea.”

Messi was always the smallest player on his team growing up. In addition to his GHD condition, Messi was typically younger than his teammates, playing up multiple age groups thanks to his considerable skill. Hence, his height has always been a talking point.

🏆 Golden Ball winner in 2014⏲️ Only man to score in his teens, 20s & 30s🔢 Only player to get an assist at 4 editions🧙‍♂️ Lionel Messi has illuminated the #WorldCup. Many happy returns, ‘La Pulga Atomica’ 🎂@TeamMessi | @Argentina |

Lionel Messi headers: Is he good in the air?

While Messi has many skills with which to dazzle opponents on the field, he’s human like the rest of us, and his height does affect his ability to contest balls in the air.

Dating back to the 2013/14 season when more complete data gathering began, Messi has taken 1394 shots in league play between La Liga (Spain) and Ligue 1 (France). Of those, only 60 of them have been with his head.

He has only scored nine headed goals from those 60 headed shots, on an expected goals tally of 11.59 xG (an underperformance of -2.59). In comparison, Messi is well above his expected goals total with his favored left foot by an incredible +35.547 (205 goals on 169.53 xG from 1196 shots).

Messi rarely scores with his head, but he did so famously in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United, and that goal sealed a 2-0 victory for a treble-winning season under Pep Guardiola.

🏟️ Stadio Olimpico, Rome🗓️ 2009 #UCLfinal💫 A moment of magic from Messi…#UCL

In 2021/22 with PSG he won 63 per cent of his aerial duels, a fantastic rate, but that came on an extremely low volume, winning just one aerial duel every five matches. In his final season in Spain’s La Liga (2020/21), he won just 42 percent of his aerial duels at a similar volume.

So while Messi can occasionally prove adept at the odd aerial challenge, he definitely picks his spots.

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Kay Adams