The biggest news of this summer is Lionel Messi ending his association with FC Barcelona after 20 years, 10 La Liga titles, 3 Champions Leagues, and 6 Balons D’Or.
After Lionel Messi’s move to PSG was confirmed last week, we might finally get to see him in action for his new club as Stade Brest host PSG this Friday, with the Bretons priced at 10/1 to cause an upset. Given the number of times we’ve seen Messi emerge from the bench to change a game over his career, we thought it would be a good opportunity to look back at his finest moments so far while we wait for this exciting new chapter to get underway.
A Record 20 years in the Making
At 17 years, three months, and 22 days old, Messi became the youngest player ever to represent Barcelona in official competition when he made his debut in October 2004, and he went on to become the club’s youngest ever goalscorer later that season when he netted an assist from Ronaldinho against Albacete in May 2005. These records have since been surpassed of course, with Ansu Fati becoming Barca’s youngest ever player and goalscorer during a stellar start to his professional career last season. Messi’s other records, however, are guaranteed not to be broken so easily or so soon.
Following on from his record-breaking start, Messi didn’t stop there. He went on to make 778 appearances for the “Blaugrana”, beating Xavi’s record in March 2021, while racking up a record total of 672 goals and breaking Pele’s record for the most goals scored for a single club. Barcelona’s record goalscorer also became the all-time top goalscorer in La Liga in 2014.
Goals, Goals, and More Goals
On the subject of goals, in 2012, Messi broke Gerd Muller’s 40 year-long record of number of goals in a calendar year, scoring 79 goals for Barcelona and a total of 91 in all competitions. The path to this achievement was boosted during that year’s Champions League campaign, when he became the first player to score 5 goals in a CL game in a 7-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
As if scoring so many wasn’t enough, Messi also won a club award for the best goal ever scored for Barcelona. His goal against Getafe, reminiscent of his compatriot Diego Maradona, was chosen by fans in 2019 as the greatest goal ever scored in the history of FC Barcelona. During the 2007 Copa Del Rey semi-final against Getafe, Messi got hold of the ball just inside his own half and danced past two opponents before heading directly towards the Getafe goal. He skipped past another two defenders, rounded the goalkeeper, and lofted the ball over the outstretched leg of the defender covering the goal line, bringing immediate comparisons to the second goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final scored by Argentina’s other famous number 10.
Curiously enough, just seven weeks later while playing against Espanyol, he went on to replicate Maradona’s most famous goal from that game against England, knocking the ball past the keeper and into the net with his hand!
For Club and Country
Despite being known for his exploits for Barcelona, Messi has also enjoyed great success with Argentina. He started off as the youngest player to represent his country at a FIFA World Cup, overtook former teammate Javier Mascherano as Argentina’s most-capped player in 2021, and is his country’s all-time record goalscorer. He topped all of this off in the summer of 2021 when he finally led La Albiceleste to a major tournament victory when they won the Copa America after a 28-year drought.
All of this success on the pitch is capped by the recognition Messi has received off it. Already a winner of 6 Ballon D’Or awards, he’ll surely be looking to make it 7 or more during his stint at PSG. With the stiff competition he’ll face from the likes of Neymar and Mbappe, it will be interesting to see not only how they play together, but also how they push each other to reach even greater heights. Who do you think will benefit most from Messi’s big move to PSG? That is something we will have to wait a little longer to find out.