PHOTO: Arsenal youngster Daniel Crowley an admirer of Lionel Messi

Arsenal Stadium - Emirates

Arsenal midfielder Daniel Crowley defended Barcelona forward Lionel Messi’s record in the 2013-14 season in May.

Daniel Crowley was all smiles on Monday as he signed his first professional contract with Arsenal.

The 17-year-old, who joined the Gunners from Aston Villa in the summer of 2013, had an impressive 2013-14 campaign, making himself an important figure in the team both in the FA Youth Cup and in the Under-19 UEFA Youth League.

The central midfielder is highly rated and is claimed by some to be the ‘next Jack Wilshere’. But it appears that there is another famous player that he is a huge fan of: Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.

Back in May, the teenager defended the Argentina international’s performance in the 2013-14 season by posting the following message and photo on social networking site Twitter.

Messi is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, but his form suffered last season. There were even suggestions that towards the latter stages of the campaign the 27-year-old was saving himself for the 2014 World Cup.

But Messi was victim of his own success last term. The four-time Ballon d’Or winner has raised his game to such a high level that fans expect him to perform at his best week after week.

That of course is not always possible, but 41 goals in all competitions (including 28 in the league) is a pretty good record by anyone’s standards.

Crowley clearly recognised that unlike many other football followers, and thus his public defence of arguably the best player in the world.

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