Messi one win away from becoming the greatest

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Lionel Messi is widely regarded as one of the best footballers of all-time, but the Argentina star is just one win away from becoming the greatest.  

The recently-turned 29-year-old has broken record after record since bursting onto the scene in October 2004 as a measly 17-year-old. 

Messi has become a five-time world player of the year and an eight-time La Liga winner. He has lifted the Champions League trophy four times. His list of individual honours goes on and on. 

However, there is just one thing that has eluded the Argentine magician: and that is a major title with his country. 

Messi and Co. went down to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, before losing a penalty shoot-out to Chile in the 2015 edition of the Copa America 12 months later. 

But after back-to-back heartbreaks, Argentina have qualified for the final of the Centenary edition of the Copa in the United States, and will have the chance to exact their revenge against Chile. 

Now, ahead of Sunday's final at MetLife Stadium, is the time for Messi to stand up and prove why he should be regarded the best of them all. 

"I think that what this group has done, to reach three finals in a row, it is something very impressive," he told Ole ahead of the decider. "Hopefully we can finish with a win, because we deserve this."

Messi, born in Rosario, Argentina, moved to Barca at the age of 13 after signing with the Catalan giants to their famed 'La Masia' academy. From a young age, it was apparent there was something very special with the kid from Santa Fe.

He breezed his way through the youth ranks, banging in goals left right and centre as he made a mockery of opposition defenders, before making his first-team debut under Frank Rijkaard, replacing Deco late in the second half against local rivals Espanyol.

Messi edged his way into the first-team picture and became a crucial part of Barca's title-winning sides, despite his youth, playing and learning his trade alongside the world's most talented stars, such as Ronaldinho, Xavi and Samuel Eto'o.

But being Argentinean, he was touted as the next Diego Maradona, further helped by scoring two identical goals to the legendary 1986 World Cup winner - including the infamous 'Hand of God', albeit with less on the line. 

The eternal debate of the best ever footballer has always included Maradona against Brazil great Pele - who won three World Cups with the South Americans - but Messi has since worked his way into the picture with his exploits for club and country. 

Messi is undoubtedly the best in the world at the moment - even with some stiff competition from Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo - and has something more about his game, something that makes him appear almost super-human. 

But regardless of what he achieves at club level, unless he can help Argentina break their trophy drought - which stretches back to the 1993 Copa America - the argument for Messi being the greatest ever will always have that one weakness, one that does extensive damage. It will always be used against him.

Argentina are in tantalising form heading into Sunday's final in New Jersey, and are favourites to taste Copa glory. Messi has overcome a back injury that kept him out of their tournament opener, and has since gone on to score five goals and lay on four assists on the way to the decider.

He broke Argentina's goalscoring record in the process, moving above Gabriel Batistuta with his 55th international goal in their semi-final win over the United States - a trademark free-kick into the top corner.

Maradona never won it. Pele never won it. But Messi can win the Copa America, and is just 90 - or possibly 120 - minutes away from cementing himself as the best footballer of all-time. This is his moment. This is Messi's chance to go from great to greatest.