(BBC)-Leading sports scientist Simon Brundish gives a knowing look when asked who is the best footballer in the world. “While he’s alive, there’s only Lionel Messi,” Brundish says. “If you’re saying anybody else is the best player in the world, Messi’s had a broken leg for a year, or he’s dead, or you’re lying.”
Given Messi is widely considered among the greatest players to ever play the game, that might not seem like too startling an insight. But Brundish has a set of statistics he believes sufficiently ends any debate on the matter.
“Currently Messi has a goal or assist every 48 minutes,” Brundish says. “Bearing in mind that every game is almost 95 minutes long (when injury time is included) that’s two almost every single game.”
Few can come close to these feats — although Cristiano Ronaldo has long had a comparable, and sometimes superior, goal scoring rate. More recently, the likes of Luis Suarez, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah have also all excelled in scoring for their respective club and national teams.
Yet Brundish says the real supremacy of Messi lies not only in his goalscoring feats but also how highly he rates in a statistic known as xG-Build.