Lionel Andrés Messi born 24 June 1987 is an Argentine footballer who currently plays for Barcelona and the Argentine national team. Considered one of the best football players of his generation and frequently cited as the world's best contemporary player,Messi received several Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21 and won both by the age of 22. His playing style and ability have drawn comparisons to Diego Maradona, who himself declared Messi his "successor".
Messi began playing football at a young age and his potential was quickly identified by Barcelona. He left Rosario-based Newell's Old Boys's youth team in 2000 and moved with his family to Europe, as Barcelona offered treatment for his growth hormone deficiency.