Lionel Messi in numbers: Is the Barcelona player the greatest-ever footballer?
Lionel Messi received the Golden Boot after finishing top scorer in Europe last season and has scored 73 goals in 2012 (in just 56 games). He is on course to exceed the record held by the player usually regarded as the best of all time. Pelé managed an astonishing 75 goals in 1959. Messi is has already scored over 300 career goals.
Messi scored a brilliant hat-trick as Barcelona defeated Deportivo de La Coruna 5-4 last weekend in an extraordinary game. Yet despite all the drama the game was once again overshadowed by the latest exploits of football’s most remarkable and arguably greatest ever player.
The statistics as well as his exploits on the pitch show Messi is the best player of his era and may be unparalleled in the history of the game by the time he retires (despite the presence of his extraordinary rival Cristiano Ronaldo):
- Messi has now scored 301 goals in his professional career, 270 goals for Barcelona in 343 games and 31 goals for Argentina in 75 games, yet he is only 25. He has already surpassed the achievements of some of the greatest ever players in Barcelona’s history to become the Catalan club’s all-time top scorer (which he achieved at 24-years-old).
- Messi is Barcelona’s top scorer in the Champions League, overtaking Rivaldo’s haul two-years ago, and is currently the third top scorer in the history of the Champions League (since 1992-93) with 53 goals (Real Madrid legend Raul leads with 71 goals).
- Messi has already scored 22 goals for Barcelona and Argentina this season. He has scored 61 goals for his club in 2012 and 12 goals for his country.
- Messi has nine hat-tricks this calendar year, seven for Barcelona and two for Argentina.
- The Argentine is the first Barcelona player to score 15 hat-tricks in La Liga. He has scored 21 hat-tricks for his club in all competitions.
- Messi has now scored 46 league goals for Barcelona in 2012, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 43 La Liga goals in a calendar year (2011).
- In May this year Messi achieved the unprecedented feat of scoring 50 goals in a league season.
- Messi is the only player to have won the Uefa Champions League top scorer award four years in a row.
- Messi in 2011-2012 and José Altafini (Milan) in 1962–63 have the record for most goals in one season in the Uefa Champions League with 14.
- Messi is the only player to score two hat-tricks in a Uefa Champions League season (2011–12).
- Messi is the only player to have scored 5 goals in a single match in the Champions League era (10 players have managed the feat in European Cup era).
- Messi has won the Uefa Champions League three times with Barcelona, as well as five Spanish league titles.
Messi has been recognised as the world’s best player on three straight occasions. He received the Fifa Ballon d’Or award – the top individual honour in football.- in 2010, 2011 and the Fifa World Player of the Year award in 2009 (which was merged with the Ballon d’Or the following year).
Messi, who was likened to a ‘Playstation player’ by Arsène Wenger after a four-goal haul against Arsenal in 2010, is once again the favourite to be crowned the best player in the world this year despite facing competition from his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the virtuoso Andrés Iniesta and the best midfielder of the modern era – Xavi.
The greatest on the greatest-ever?
“When Messi has scored 1,283 goals like me, when he’s won three World Cups, we’ll talk about it.” – Pele
“I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentinian football and his name is Messi.” – Diego Maradona, speaking in 2006
“Messi obviously could not be compared to me as he is a completely different type of player; he is more in the mould of Maradona. What everyone should be especially happy about is that every era has its own heroes. Why would one be less than the other? Pele was a hero in his time, I was in my period and Messi’s time is now. He is a joy to behold. Instead of comparing, we should just be really happy that we are able to enjoy players like Messi and Ronaldo today.” – Johann Cruyff in his column for Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf
You can follow the writer on Twitter: @Majid_Mohamed
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