A world full of Messis
At least 55 of FIFAâ€™s 209 member countries apparently have their very own Lionel Messi. The original Messi, is, of course, Argentinian. But Messi is also a simple shorthand for an extremely talented, slightly built, and maybe but not necessarily left-footed player with freakish dribbling ability.
Some of the Messis out there, like the Mongolian Messi, are rather unconvincing. The Afghan Messi doesnâ€™t even play football. Heâ€™s a grade school geography teacher who simply looks a bit like the Argentine Messi.
In the U.S., Stefan Fatsis pointed out, doesnâ€™t have its own Messi yet. The sooner it does, the sooner the U.S. will begin competing with the rest of the world in gleefully overhyping its soccer talents.
Hereâ€™s your guide to the worldâ€™s Lionel Messis in alphabetical order, because we want to be fair to all the wannabes:
The Algerian Messi is Abdelmoumenen Djabou.
The Armenian Messi is Aras Ă–zbiliz.
The Belgian Messi is Eden Hazard.
The Bosnian Messi is Miralem Ramic.
The Bulgarian Messi is Radoslav Dimitrov, or at least he was until he got a haircut that ended the resemblance. Daniel Nachev is also the Bulgarian Messi. Judging solely by his hair, he may also be the Bulgarian Taylor Swift. In terms of ability, if not obvious effort, the other Bulgarian Messi is Dmitar Berbatov, the countryâ€™s best player.
The Canadian Messi is Hanson Boakai.
The Chinese Messi is Li Ming.
The Colombian Messi is Juan Fernando Quintero.
The Croatian Messi is Alen Halilovic. Heâ€™s actually making some progress in earning his title: the 17 year-old who was signed by Barcelona in March.
The Czech Messi is VĂˇclav PilaĹ™.
The Ethiopian Messi is Yussuf Salah.
The Filipino Messi is OJ Porteria.
The French Messi is Hatem Ben Arfa, according to Hatem Ben Arfa.
The Georgian Messi is Giorgi Chanturia.
The Ghanaian Messi is Christian Atsu.
The Greek Messi is Ioannis Fetfatzidis.
The Hong Kong Messi is Lo Kwan Yee.
The Indonesian Messi is Andik Vermansyah.
The Iranian Messi is Sardar Azmoun.
The Israeli Messi is Gai Assulin.
The Ivory Coastâ€™s Messi is Gervihno.
The Kenyan Messi is former deputy prime minister Musalia Mudavadi, according to the former deputy prime minister.
The Kiwi Messi is Marco Rojas.
The Korean Messi is Lee Seung-Woo.
The Macedonian Messi is Ivan Nastevski.
The Maltese Messi is Michel Mifsud.
The Mexican Messi is Carlos Vela.
The Montenegrin Messi is Stevan Jovetic.
The Moroccan Messi is Hachim Mastour.
The Nigerian Messi is Babatunde Michael.
The Northern Irish Messi is Paddy McCourt. McCourt is also the Derry PelĂ©.
The Paraguayan Messi is Juan Manuel Iturbe.
The Peruvian Messi is RaĂşl RuidĂaz.
The Romanian Messi is Gabriel Torje.
The Russian Messi is Alan Dzagoev.
The San Marino Messi is Andy Selva.
The Scottish Messi is Ryan Gauld.
The Serbian Messi is Veljko Batrovic.
The South African Messi is Thulani Serero.
The Spanish Messi is Iker Muniain.
The Tahitian Messi is Marima Vaihua.
The Tunisian Messi is Youssef Msakni.
The Ugandan Messi is Augustine Nsumba.
The Ukrainian Messi is Yevhen Konoplyanka.
The Welsh Messi is Aaron Ramsey.
The Yemeni Messi is Malek Al-Shuaibi.
The Zambian Messi is Godfrey Chitalu.
Research into the next batch of Neymars is being considered.