The Puskas Award 2015 goals ranked: Does Messi beat, or get beaten?
10. Carlos Tevez vs Parma (Nov 9, 2014)
A combination of power and subtlety, this slice of excellence from Tevez provides a reminder of what Juventus might be missing this season. Picking the ball up in his own half, the Argentine muscles away from a defender before powering through the heart of the Parma defence, flicking the ball past a couple of slightly bewildered adversaries before gathering himself and retaining enough poise to calmly stroke the ball home. It would have been easy for his brain to be a mess after such a long run, but his was clear enough to provide the finish.
9. Philippe Mexes vs Inter (Jul 25, 2015)
Should a goal in a pre-season friendly qualify for this award? In some respects you could say a goal like this, which meant nothing beyond the quality of the strike itself, has more right to be on the list than any other; it's a goal for a goal's sake, a piece of spectacular play that only exists for how spectacular it is. Mexes doesn't tend to score ordinary goals, and this was no ordinary goal, a sensational flying volley straight from a corner that flew into the top corner and bewildered all around him.
8. Carli Lloyd vs Japan (Jul 6, 2015)
However, if the mark of a goal's quality is the occasion on which it's scored, then Lloyd's for the USA in last summer's Women's World Cup final will take some beating. Winning the ball in her own half, she reached the halfway line with a number of options – a pass to the left for Alex Morgan, hold up play and wait for some more support – but instead chose to shoot, surprising a discombobulated Ayumi Kaihori in the Japanese goal. And it completed Lloyd's hat-trick too. Not bad.
7. David Ball vs Preston (Mar 29, 2015)
One in the eye for anyone who thinks you can't find beauty in League One. Fleetwood Town were looking for an equaliser against Preston, at that point comfortably in the automatic promotion places, and with five minutes to go you‘d think route one would be the way to go. Not for Ball, who after one bamboozling dragback, provided this supremely delicate chip that sailed gently over keeper Sam Johnstone's head. The crowd seemed to realise about halfway through what was happening, and how wonderful it was.
6. Wendell Lira vs Atletico GO (Mar 12, 2015)
Fame can certainly be fleeting in football. Wendell Lira, Brazilian journeyman and nominee for the Puskas Award next to some of the most high-profile names in the game, is currently without work after playing for four clubs in the last two years. But this goal might revive some interest in him – a remarkable twisting overhead kick for Goianésia after being put clear on goal by a lobbed pass; a combination of quality that you wouldn’t think belongs in the Brazilian regional leagues. It's the violence of the shot that strikes you most, Lira's leg chopping down like a madman taking an axe to some firewood.
5. Gonzalo Castro vs Deportivo La Coruna (Apr 12, 2015)
Sometimes, necessity is the mother of not only invention, but spectacular goals too. When Sergio Canales played a booming crossfield pass to Castro, there wasn't a great deal on for him, with Imanol Agirretxe dithering about rather than making a run into the middle. Even safely bringing the ball down would have been a tall order. So Castro did the only sensible thing, which was to lash an extraordinary volley into the top corner from an implausible angle. Simple, really.
4. Alessandro Florenzi vs Barcelona (Sep 16, 2015)
Florenzi's powering run down the right flank, turning defence into attack against Barcelona in the Champions League, was impressive enough – but then he launched this absolutely ludicrous effort high, high over the Barca backline and into the net. Particularly enjoyable is Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen circling under the ball like a confused dog trying to keep track of a kite, before giving up and hoping that it would go wide. Last season Florenzi celebrated a goal by running into the crowd and hugging his grandma, which he neglected to do on this occasion, but you can't have everything.
3. Esteban Ramirez vs Deportivo Saprissa (Nov 2, 2014)
The most impressive goals are ones that usually combine a number of skills, and this strike, by Ramirez for Herediano in the Costa Rican league, fits that category. First he controlled the ball on his chest, then evaded a defender with a quick juggle on his head, before unleashing the most ferocious volley on the run, straight into the corner of the net. In his celebration Ramirez himself doesn't seem quite sure how he managed it, or indeed if it happened at all, which is rather endearing.
2. Marcel Ndjeng vs Bolton (Jul 13, 2015)
You always hear about outrageous skills and feats players pull off in training – presumably enjoying the freedom of a non-competitive situation to show off what they can do – so perhaps a friendly is just an extension of that. That would certainly seem true of this goal of Ndjeng’s for Paderborn in the summer, a fizzing, skimming long-range volley that never seemed to get much higher than the crossbar but nevertheless gave the keeper absolutely no chance of even getting a sniff of it. Incredible.
1. Lionel Messi vs Athletic Bilbao (May 30, 2015)
Anyone wishing to make a compilation in order to display exactly what makes Messi special should probably just save themselves some time and watch this goal over and over. Everything's there, from the ball-on-a-string control, the lightning fast feet, the surprising body strength and unwillingness to go down while being fouled – and then of course, the clinical finish. In a final. The churlish might say the keeper should have done better at his near post, but that would be nit-picking of the highest order. It might also seem just too obvious to put Messi at No.1, but sometimes the obvious is that way for a reason.