Lionel Messi, by way of Rosario - an antithesis to the concrete jungle of Buenos Aires as it's cheaper… and cleaner - left his native Argentina early, having entered discussions with Barcelona before he was even a teenager, as the La Liga powerhouse offered to pay for his necessary growth hormone treatment.
The gifted attacker remains small in height, 5ft 7in, but is a giant in the landscape of the sport. He is, after all, one of the consensus top two players in world football and, at 27, is still to enter his peak years as an athlete and a footballer.
Xherdan Shaqiri, born in Gjilan, eastern Kosovo, emigrated with his parents as a baby, where he grew up in the picturesque mountainous region of Nordwestschweiz. Eventually naturalised, he, like Messi, does not appear to be physically athletic due to his small height - 5ft 6 - and, despite struggling to break-through at Bayern Munich after impressing at FC Basel - has long been dubbed the Alpine Messi.
Both players are impressing for their respective nations at the World Cup tournament in Brazil and Shaqiri's hat-trick performance against Honduras inside the sweltering Arena Amazonia in Manaus even prompted Spanish site AS to herald Shaqiri as the 'Messi of the Alps'.
Is it apt?
|Nation||Touch /App||Pass Acc||% Final 3rd Entries||Mins /Chance Created||Dribble /App||Dispossess /App||Mins /Goal||Shot Acc||Apps||Mins|
Both Messi and Shaqiri receive a similar amount of touches on the football on a per game average and the precision in their passing is comparable also, however, Messi's passing is more probing… his efforts enter the final third with a greater frequency than his Swiss counterpart.
The players on the end of each athlete's passes do the same with the opportunity - with both stars creating a goal-scoring chance every 24 minutes. The Swiss sensation may be more accurate in his shooting (43%), yet where Messi really excels is his dribbling ability (almost ten dribbles a game in Brazil while only being dispossessed twice per match compared to Shaqiri's three dribble averages and 3.7 dispossessions).
Messi has also been far more consistent in the tournament for Argentina, finally coming-of-age at a World Cup as his late resurgence helped down Bosnia and Herzegovina, he spared Argentina's blushes with a last-gasp goal against Iran and he struck twice against Nigeria.
Lionel Messi is peaking at the right time - just as La Albiceleste progressed out of their group and into a Round of 16 knockout clash against Shaqiri's Switzerland.
Underused at Bayern due to the peak form powers of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Shaqiri has another opportunity to shine at the World Cup, but this time against a genuine world power, rather than his three-goal A+ grade outing versus the Hondurans.
What that could spell for Liverpool, who have been courting the £16 million rated attacker, remains to be seen as another starring role could significantly increase his valuation at the Bavarian club.