Lionel Messi has been talked about as the best soccer player in the world for an entire generation now. His dribbling, passing, and shot are world-class. But how fast is Messi?
Messi's highest measured speed is 20.1 mph (32.5 km/h). Unlike most players, Messi's top speed was recorded while dribbling the ball. Messi's top speed in 2022 has dropped to 19.1 mph (30.8 km/h).
So now you know exactly how fast Messi is, but what makes him so fast? Why is he so fast with the ball? And how does he compare to other players? You will find the answer to all these questions and more in this article!
There's no doubt that Messi is an incredibly fast dribbler on the ball. He has often been praised for how quickly he bursts away from opposition defenders once he gets the ball at his feet.
However, he's nowhere near the top of the list when it comes to overall speed.
This may surprise some people, especially since Messi is often talked about as a very fast player.
The stats speak for themself. In multiple competitions, Messi has not even made the list when it comes to overall top speed.
During the 2018 World Cup, FIFA recorded the top player speeds in every game. Messi did not even feature in the top 10.
Although Messi isn't among the fastest players in the world, that doesn't mean he isn't quick.
Messi's highest ever recorded top speed came in 2017 when he clocked an impressive 20.19 mph (32.5 km/h).
One occasion where Messi featured in a top 10 list was during a study in 2017.
In this study, the group that collected the stats focused on players running with the ball.
This is the area where Messi shines, and this list reflects that.
|Player:||Top Speed (with ball):|
|1. Gareth Bale||22.92 mph (36.90 km/h)|
|2. Orlando Berrío||22.36 mph (36.00 km/h)|
|3. Jürgen Damm||21.89 mph (35.23 km/h)|
|4. Antonio Valencia||21.81 mph (35.10 km/h)|
|5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang||21.49 mph (34.60 km/h)|
|6. Aaron Lennon||21.00 mph (33.80 km/h)|
|7. Cristiano Ronaldo||20.87 mph (33.60 km/h)|
|8. Theo Walcott||20.31 mph (32.70 km/h)|
|9. Lionel Messi||20.19 mph (32.50 km/h)|
|10. Wayne Rooney||19.38 mph (31.20 km/h)|
Messi's top speed with the ball is exactly the same as his overall top speed - 20.19 mph (32.5 km/h).
This is very rare as most players are usually quicker when running without the ball. However, there may be a few reasons why this isn't the case with Messi.
The most obvious reason is that Messi is freakishly fast with the ball at his feet. He just happens to not lose any pace, given his ball control is arguably the best in the world.
Another reason may be that he doesn't waste energy running off the ball.
Messi's tactical awareness and vision might mean that he doesn't have to run at a breakneck speed to get himself in a dangerous position.
The final reason could be the lack of data during Messi's younger years.
Before 2011, there really wasn't much data surrounding the speed of soccer players.
Considering that Messi broke into the Barcelona team in 2005, it would not be a surprise if he has a higher speed off the ball that we are just not aware of.
If we take Messi's highest speed of 20.19 mph (32.5 km/h) and apply that to a 100m sprint, Messi would complete 100 meters in 11.07 seconds.
Of course, Messi wouldn't be able to maintain that top speed for the entire distance, so in truth, it would likely be a little slower.
However, you could argue that in proper running gear, the Argentine could hit even faster speeds!
If we take Messi's average speed in 2022, he would complete 100 meters a lot slower.
Applying his average 2022 speed of 17.7 mph (28.55 km/h), Messi would complete 100m in 12.6 seconds.
To compare, the world record for the 100m sprint is held by Usain Bolt at 9.58 seconds.
Since Messi left Barcelona in 2021 to come to PSG, many people think he is no longer the same player who amazed fans in previous years.
Is this the case when it comes to speed? Has Messi got slower?
The answer is yes.
Messi's top speed in 2022 is 19.1 mph (30.8 km/h). This is 1 mph (1.7 km/h) slower than his top speed in 2017. His average speed in 2022 is 17.7 mph (28.55 km/h)
Although he has slowed down, a top speed of 19.1 mph for a 34-year-old is nothing to be ashamed of!
The reason that Messi is so fast is partly down to his size. As everybody can see, Messi is definitely on the shorter side. Messi stands at 5ft 6in.
He also has quite a stocky frame. This results in a lower center of gravity for the player.
Such a low center of gravity really helps Messi when accelerating. It means that his start speed is a lot faster than a taller player.
It also means that Messi has a little less weight to carry around, which can only help.
This low center of gravity is also partly why Messi can control the ball so well at high speed.
However, his body type does not help him over longer distances.
This is why he struggles to match the top speed of a taller, slimmer player like Ronaldo, who has a similar body type to somebody like Usain Bolt.
Ronaldo's highest ever measured top speed is 21.1 mph (34 km/h). Messi's highest measured speed is 20.1 mph (32.5 km/h). This means that Ronaldo is 0.9 mph (1.5 km/h) faster than Messi.
This is partly down to Ronaldo's naturally athletic body type compared to Messi's stockier frame.
The fact that he's also trained with Usain Bolt may also be a significant factor.
Many will argue that Messi is quicker on the turn and has faster acceleration than Ronaldo. The fact remains, though, that Ronaldo is the faster player overall.
Kylian Mbappé is faster than Lionel Messi.
Mbappé's highest ever measured top speed is 23.6 mph (38 km/h). Messi's highest measured speed is 20.1 mph (32.5 km/h). This means that Mbappé is 3.5 mph (5.5 km/h) faster than Messi.
This may come down to Mbappé's naturally incredible speed.
In fact, there's not a soccer player in the world that can say they're faster than Mbappé, including Messi.
It is, of course, worth noting that speed data and stats have been a lot more accessible during Mbappé's generation than they were for Messi.
(Click here to find out exactly how fast Mbappe is)
Erling Haaland is also faster than Lionel Messi.
Haaland's highest ever measured top speed is 22.39 mph (36.04 km/h). Messi's highest measured speed is 20.1 mph (32.5 km/h). This means that Haaland is 2.29 mph (3.54 km/h) faster than Messi.
This one could be a little more surprising given just how massive Haaland is.
Unlike Ronaldo, for example, Haaland is built more like a basketball player than a runner.
Haaland is a freak of nature, though, and the amount of power he has in his legs might be the reason why he's so much faster than Messi.
(Click here to find out exactly how fast Haaland is)
To summarize, Lionel Messi is fast, but he is not among the fastest players in the world.
Whether this is because Messi does not need to use as much speed or because there was not as much data available in his younger years is debatable.
With that being said, Messi is still one of the fastest players when it comes to controlling the ball.
His dribble speed and control are still among the best in the world.