Ladies and Gentlemen,
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read my review. To understand it better, I will give you a little bit of background.
I'm not the best Fifa player, but I'm not too bad either. I am currently on about my 7th straight season in online Division 1. I have won about three times as many matches as I have lost and have over 200k in match earnings. My record and earnings would be more had I not spent most of my time trading, which is how I got the cash together to buy Messi and what I would consider a very good team.
For the record, I am a big fan of Messi IRL and consider him to be the greatest player ever to take to a field. There is no personal grudge here.
I have played Messi in the following roles:
Right ST in 4-3-1-2 and 5-2-1-2
CF in 4-3-1-2 and 5-2-1-2
CAM in 3-5-2
My team is not full of fools. As you see below he gets the best service possible. I run a hybrid La Liga / Brazil and have played 5-2-1-2 the most. Here is my typical 5-2-1-2 team, rotated at 89 fitness. Messi is topped up with a fitness card when he gets to 89. Everyone always has VH morale and the team runs at 100 chem. Sometimes Silva drops to 7 chem depending on my squad choices.
Strike force 1 - Messi, Aguero, Tevez
Strike force 2 - Messi, Benzema, Falcao
LCMs - Xavi and Fabregas
RCMs - IF Ronaldinho and Kaka
LWBs - Marcelo and Alba
RWBs- Alves and Mariano
CBs - Ramos, Pepe, Silva, Mascherano, Dede, Miranda
GKs - Casillas or Alves
There are two reasons why people buy Messi - to use his card rating to get the highest rated squad possible, and to use him in game for running, dribbling and shooting. I will therefore only comment on these latter three.
Running - I do play lofted through balls from my CMs and WBs, but he doesn't really get on to them as often as my two STs. I also play normal through balls which he does get on to. He doesn't feel like 93 pace though. I have played with NIF and SIF Lucas who feels an awful lot faster. Also Neymar, Welliton, Pato, Hulk and any of the other high 80 plus pace forwards feel faster. I'm not sure whether Messi has a brain fart when I loose my pass button or what, but he just seems really slow off the mark. Could be something to do with his medium defense workrate such that he doesn't want to leave my hefty 5 man defence short-staffed?
Dribbling - Like I said above, he does receive through balls and the odd lofted ball too when played from a little deeper. The service received from Xavi, Fabregas and IF Ronaldinho is second to none. Any of them can put the ball on a fifty pence piece across half the pitch. The way he receives the ball and gets started on a run is the most frustrating thing about Messi. When that ball touches his feet, chest, belly whatever, it seems to come as such a shock to him that the defenders are on to him before he has even had a chance to sidestep. I have tried all the different methods - receiving on the run, LT/RT, knocking the ball to the side, trapping etc and the results are normally always disastrous. I can't fathom it. Methods that work with every other forward I have ever used seem lost on Leo. Once the ball gets to him, I can never move it before defenders are on to him, especially the sweaty ones. Let's face it, everyone (including me) is rocking sweaty defenders nowadays and Messi with his first touch lag simply cannot cope. When I can begin a run, normally when I pick the ball up deep, he seems very sluggish on the ball. Furthermore, if any sweaty strong defenders get within a yard of him he gift wraps the ball for them and sends them on their merry way towards my CMs. If I wanted my CMs to mop up Messi's mistakes, I would have bought Alonso and Melo for their defending skills. This is no joke when I tell you that Ronaldinho is about twice as fast on the ball as Messi. I was playing against a good friend the other night who only realised Messi was on the field when I screamed abuse at him at my TV screen. Ronaldinho however was described as "that super fast girlie one in the middle". I'm not here to review Ronaldinho, but just thought the comparison should be made.
Shooting - This is good, but not as good as Falcao. I have scored more goals with Falcao's weaker left foot than I have with Messi's stronger left foot. That said, Messi did score a last minute scorcher from outside the box in the last minute of a game I had to win. The league champion coin bonus however was not the 1.2m I paid for him, so he still owes me big time. The problem is not with Messi's shooting, but with how difficult it is to make space for the shot. Due to the fact I cannot get him running on to balls very well and there are better heading players in my team, I do not really play him at ST. In his CAM/CF roles he should have been able to create space for the shot, but that does not happen. As soon as Messi shows up on the squad screen, people seem to choose the high pressure tactic and he is closed down extremely fast. He is probably also man-marked. High pressure man-marking coupled with sluggish reactions, poor first touch and low strength make for one very frustrating experience. Some games he simply does not feature and ratings below 6 are not uncommon. He has even received ratings below 5 on games I have won. Perhaps on those occasions he played the Heskey role to free up the rest of my team, but I didn't ask him to hold the middle of the park, I asked him to dance through defenders and score wonder goals!
The online play with Messi is frustrating, but he is also bad in the offline seasons and tournaments. I have a few teams floating around all of whom play in Div1 offline or the Ultimate Cup. I have detailed below the strike rates for my players for a comparison:
Messi - 38 goals in 72 games - 0.53 goals per game
Falcao - 56 goals in 66 games - 0.85
Benzema - 46 goals in 62 games - 0.74
Ageuro - 34 goals in 41 games - 0.83
Higuain - 24 goals in 35 games - 0.69
Tevez - 19 goals in 34 games - 0.56
Jonas - 21 goals in 18 games - 1.17
Soldado - 12 goals in 22 games - 0.55
This is just a sample of the attackers I have in my squads. I also have sweaty Brasilvers who outscore Messi and have had Brazilian gold attackers like Pato, Neymar, Lucas, even Vagner Love that have outscored him. I no longer have them though and cannot check their stats. You get the picture though.
In summary, Messi in FUT 13 to me is a bit like the rock band Oasis. They annoy me and I can't stand them, but I know they must be good as a lot of people like them and the stats on album and single sales don't lie. Well, Messi must be good as his stats look great and he does get good reviews elsewhere. Perhaps it's the way I use him, but I have honestly tried him everywhere I can in front of midfield. I also have some dribbling skills and can dance through opponents' midfield and defence with Ronaldinho.
Messi doesn't work for me. 5/10 rating because he must be good, but not for me.
Thanks for your time