Tactical Insights

Victor Vasquez Claimed he was Spoken About More Than Messi at La Maisa


Highlights

  • Victor Vasquez was Lionel Messi’s equal at La Masia, but his career didn’t pan out like the Argentine’s.
  • Messi and Vasquez were two of the hottest prospects in the academy, with Messi going on to achieve superstardom.
  • Messi is widely regarded as Barcelona’s greatest player and one of the best footballers in history due to his exceptional talent and goal-scoring abilities.


There is little doubt around the globe and throughout Europe that Lionel Messi is Barcelona’s greatest-ever player. Others may also describe him as the finest footballer to have played the sport, end of.

The ‘Little Magician’ was a phenom throughout world football, breaking and re-setting records every single season and marking himself out as one of history’s very best, through his remarkable goalscoring ability and outstanding natural talent.

It may come as a surprise, then, to hear of one of his former cohorts allegedly being touted as a higher talent than the Argentine icon. As it is, though, Victor Vasquez has claimed that he was the man with all the hype when coming through the club’s fables La Masia academy, saying:

“They were talking about me more than Messi.”


And whilst it may seem the boldest of statements, it was authentically true with Cesc Fabregas once adding that, the pair were “by far the best players on our team.”


Who is Victor Vasquez

La Masia star touted as a higher prospect than Messi

On the books at Barcelona since the age of 11, Victor Vasquez was widely regarded, at one point, as the jewel in the crown of La Masia. With an early reputation for his dazzling skills and goalscoring prowess, Vasquez was dubbed as the next big thing to be produced by the famous Catalan academy.

However, while a selection of his teammates went on to become world-renowned players in every position, Vasquez would find himself struggling to break through consistently into his early 20s, by which point he had amassed a meagre three senior appearances. He did manage to find the back of the net on one of these occasions, though, sliding home his first-ever senior goal against Rubin Kazan in the Champions League in December 2010.


Two of his senior appearances did also come in the 08/09 and the 10/11 Champions League campaigns, which resulted in tournament success for Barcelona and a pair of winner’s medals for Vasquez. It was not to be at Barca for him, however, having lost his trademark quickness and mobility, and he was told to seek a new employer by manager Pep Guardiola the season after.

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Vasquez vs Messi

Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring vs Manchester United

Whereas Messi would go on to become one of the most well-respected and decorated players in the history of the sport, Vasquez would not hit the heights that were projected for him and met by his former colleague.

Messi broke through into Barcelona’s first team in 2004, as a fresh-faced 17-year-old promoted into the senior side by manager Frank Rijkaard.


Such a rise to prominence would not await Vasquez, although it may have been bookmarked for him. His senior bow did not come until much later, namely in 2008 at the age of 21, after being on the books of the club for just over a decade.

By that point, Messi’s stock had risen to the point where he was already listed as one of the very best in the world, despite only being around a similar age to Vasquez at the time. In fact, the 8-time Balon Dor recipient had already knocked home 41 senior club goals in all competitions for the club by the time the boy listed as his superior at a time secured his first-team debut.

Messi vs Vasquez

Career Stats

Messi

Vasquez

Goals

861

70

Assists

355

78

Appearances

913

487

Trophies

41

9

Clubs

3

9

Caps

201

1 (U16)


Vasquez’ services would no longer be required by then-manager Guardiola by the end of the 10/11 season, and he departed for Belgium by way of Club Brugge. It was here that he would recover some of that early potential into becoming one of the league’s standout stars, making over 120 appearances for Brugge and racking up 85 goal contributions, as well as winning a Player of the Season award and securing two trophies.

He would depart Belgium in 2016, making his way into a journeyman career across the MLS and Qatar, before ending up in the Indian Super League with East Bengal, with whom he currently plies his trade.

While Vasquez’s career was far from poor, and he did enjoy his fair share of success, it is also fair to say it may come as a surprise to hear of the hefty potential that was lauded above him in his formative years. For Messi, who was not quite rated as highly as Vasquez during the pair’s academy days, to go on and enjoy the rich career that he did leaves a surprising career comparison between the two when in knowledge of the talent the pair of them seemed to share in equal measure.


Stats via Transfermarkt (as of 30/05/24).



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