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Helping Hands: The top 5 footballing influences on Leo Messi’s glittering yet unfulfilled career

A close look at the vital cogs who played big parts in the construction of the masterpiece that is Leo Messi.

As Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer of all time, retired after a  less than successful international football career following a second successive final defeat to Chile in the Copa America 2016 – yet another Argentine loss in a final of a major international tournament – we take a look at some of the men who helped make Messi the force that he is today.

Here are the five top footballing influences on Lionel Messi’s career so far.

 

5) Pablo Aimar

Aimar and Messi
Messi grew up idolising Pablo Aimar.

Diego Maradona once said that Pablo Aimar is the only player that he would pay to watch. Now just another name in the ever-growing “The Next Maradona” list, Aimar was a No. 10 in the mould of the great legend himself. Armed with an endless bag of tricks and a surprisingly calm disposition when on the ball, the unassuming Argentine earned himself quite the reputation in the early 2000s playing for Valencia. Wizard, Clown and Genius were just some of the nicknames that were casually thrown around Aimar when in his prime.

While Aimar himself played out a rather underwhelming career, he managed to carve out for himself a pretty dedicated fan base. None more so than the young Leo Messi, the one who played in Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys, the one who was to grow up to be the one true heir to Maradona’s crown. Messi himself has repeatedly acknowledged idolising Aimar in his formative years fascinated by the guile and elegance exhibited by his compatriot, modelling some of his play on the former River Plate attacker.

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