To describe Lionel Messi as a good player, a great player, is a statement so facile as to render it pointless. Such is the utter brilliance of the Barcelona forward, we are not just running out of superlatives, as the old cliché has it, we are running out of ways to say we are running out of superlatives. He is a man for which conventional language is no longer sufficient.
Messi's is a talent that cannot be satisfactorily categorised, nor adequately described. How to put into words his five-goal performance in a 7-1 evisceration of Bayer Leverkusen last night? Go on, give it a go. Early Doors couldn't manage it, and remarkably it gets paid to write this nonsense.
Thankfully though, where language fails, arithmetic flourishes.
At 24 years of age, last night's five-goal performance means Messi is just seven - seven -goals short of Barcelona's all-time record of 235, held by Cesar Rodriguez. The most recent 186 have been scored in 201 games. It is quite conceivable, no, distinctly probable, that he will exceed 500 goals in the Barcelona shirt.
He has scored 53 in 49 games for club and country this season. Last season he scored 51 in 55. Last night was the first time a player had scored five goals in a single Champions League match. Some have done so in the competition's previous incarnation of the European Cup, however - most recently Ajax's Soren Lerby in the 1979-80 season - and you won't get ED pretending football didn't exist before the 90s.
Messi has 12 in the tournament this season and his nearest challenger, Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez, has six. He now has 49 goals in Europe's top club competition - only Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Raul have more, while Alfredo Di Stefano has the same amount. Raul, the record holder with 71, reached 49 at the age of 27.
While the numbers decisively place Messi as the greatest of his generation - despite what a sulky man in a pair of tight white bathing trunks in Madrid might have you believe - expanding this out to concepts of historic greatness becomes somewhat more problematic, as much as football fans enjoy the practice.
Quite simply, a goal is worth more in some eras than others. Dixie Dean scored 60 in the league alone in one season for Everton, though few outside some patches of Merseyside would claim he is the best of all time. Moreover, we cannot use goals as the only criteria, as then only strikers would be eligible to sit on football's top table.
Trophies and medals are a good measure, and having won five La Ligas and three Champions Leagues to date there is every chance Messi will amass one of the greatest collections ever seen; yet would a failure to win the World Cup with Argentina diminish his claims, or dull his brilliance? Can the shortcomings of an international team mask the genius of an individual?
Comparisons across decades and categories are fraught with peril, and statistics alone cannot capture the essence of a player. We do not rate Zinedine Zidane by the frequency of his assists, and nor for that matter do we judge Pablo Picasso by how photographically accurate his work is.
Greatness often lies in the intangible, the space between actions where more theoretical concepts like thought, imagination and instinct exist. Therefore, if something cannot be exactly quantified, cannot be ascribed a definite value, then it cannot be accurately compared.
Not that that stops us when it comes to Barcelona's little genius of course. Every one of his feats on a pitch is followed an enthusiastic debate over his place in football's history.
Is he better than Diego Maradona? (see the infographic below for comparison stats) Is he the greatest player ever bar none? Are his skills comparable with those shown by Carlton Palmer at his peak? The questions go on and on and on, like Messi with a ball at his foot and a quaking defence in front of him.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barca coach Pep Guardiola favours his student in the all-time great debate.
"I'm lucky to coach and manage this player," he said. "He is the best. There's no one else. He is a unique player because of his innate talent and also for his competitiveness. We will not see another player like Messi. It's not easy to score five goals, and one day he will score six. The throne is his. Only he will decide when to leave it.
"He does not think about the big records. He scores one and tries to score the second; he gets the second; and he wants the third; that is how he thinks.
"He is among the greatest of all time. When Di Stefano played they said there would never be another and along came Johan Cruyff; they said there would never be another and along came Maradona; now we have Messi.
"And I should include Pele or he will get upset."
Yet more historic rivals for this marvel of a player to pit his claims against. But, in the act of constantly analysing and contextualising something, surely there is a danger of forgetting to just sit back and enjoy it. And the enjoyment that can be derived from this quite luxuriant talent is beyond rival at present.
So the next time Messi appears to be testing the boundaries of what is possible in football, rather than engaging in a debate over whether it makes him greater than Pele, let's just be left how a player as great as Messi should leave us: speechless.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I think all the good teams are interested in him. At this moment Van Persie is one of the best strikers in Europe with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli. If there is a good player who wants to leave a club, then we are interested. I think he is a fantastic striker but I think he will remain with Arsenal." - Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini starts the summer scramble for the signature of Arsenal captain Robin van Persie by admitting he is a keen admirer of the Netherlands international. In fairness, who isn't?
FOREIGN VIEW: "I feel joy and relief. We've achieved something no one would have thought possible at the start of the season. Things are getting serious now. We need to wait to see who else gets into the quarter-finals, but there isn't one team we would prefer to play — just let's not get Barcelona." - Despite Messi's historic feat, it would be remiss not to mention APOEL's success in reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis expressed the excitement in the camp after APOEL saw off Lyon on penalties to become the first Cypriot side to reach the last eight.
COMING UP: Mr Zonal Marking looks at the role Charlie Adam played during Liverpool's Premier League defeat at the hands of Arsenal at the weekend, while in the second part of our exclusive interview Gordon Strachan discusses his sporting heroes.
Tonight is Europa League night of course, with Manchester City visiting Sporting at 6pm and Manchester United hosting Athletic Bilbao at 8.05pm. We also have live text commentary on the matches between FC Twente and Schalke and Valencia and PSV Eindhoven.