Lionel Messi in numbers: Is the Barcelona player the greatest-ever footballer?

Majid Mohamed

Messi 300x225 Lionel Messi in numbers: Is the Barcelona player the greatest ever footballer?Football’s greatest – Pelé, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer and Alfredo Di Stéfano amongst others – may already have been surpassed by a 25-year-old.

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

For more Messi stats on Twitter follow: @barcastuff , @MessiStats, @BarcaStat, @InfostradaLive

Picture:Getty Images

Tagged in: , , , , , , , , ,
  • mjsimonov

    The more that time passes the more the memory of old players fades. Cruyff is right. Football has changed considerably over the last 50 or 60 years so you can’t compare players from different eras.

  • Brujah81

    I’m with Cryuff – it’s just wonderful to have Messi in our era.
    The fact that he’s only 25 though is scary – 25 to 30 are arguably a footballer’s best years!!

  • George Best

    Argentina is going through a bit of a resurgence under Sabella but they have honestly not been very good at all for the majority of the time Messi has played, especially because the insane Maradona and inept Batista were managers. Argentina is filled with forwards, but against a decent side you can field maybe 3 at the most (Messi one of them). They have had no defense, and lack a deep playmaker (in the Pirlo/Xavi mold). The way that defense was obliterated by Germany in the WC proves how bad they were. How can you blame Messi for a team that gave up 4 goals? Aside from Barcelona nearly every team giving up 4 goals is going to lose. OK maybe he should have scored 1 or 2 but that team still loses even in the best case scenario.

  • George Best

    Ronaldo receives more assists from Ozil and Di Maria than Messi receives from Xavi and Iniesta. This is a fact. Look it up.

  • John Donohoe

    A brilliant answer by Pele. A humble one by Maradona. A practical one by J Cruyff. Messi although he’s not a god is not of this world! However the title of the greatest footballer ever has to go to E. Dunphy.

  • JDSixsmith

    Bit late to this but I think it’s pretty much impossible to compare players from different eras now because the game is played so differently.

    I remember watching footage of Pele play in 1970 & the physical treatment he came in for was absurd, a series of half a dozen really brutal “tackles”, only the last one blown for as a foul, most of them knocking him down but he just kept getting up. Any one of the tackles would warrant a sending off nowadays. Besides his skill, Pele’s physical strength was utterly incredible… & he wasn’t exactly gentle himself.

    I much prefer to see today’s style of game when you can be amazed at the breath-taking skill of Messi, but I suspect if he’d have been playing in the 1970s he physically wouldn’t have been able to take it.

  • Mahfuz

    I don’t wanna comment on this issue…..but really, is owning more than 1000 goals ensures one as the greatest?? Then c’on, why don’t we put Mr. Romario on the list?
    Not even one person here mentioned his name? So????
    What a joke, Mr. Pele….ha ha.

Most viewed



Property search
Browse by area

Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter