It was on this day in 1987 that a certain Argentine footballer named Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini was born. Messi broke into the Blaugrana’s first team as a talented young attacker over a decade ago.
The Catalans knew that there was something special about the youngster, and eventually, the world found out about his genius. He became a player widely regarded as the greatest ever in the history of the beautiful game, let alone that of Barcelona or La Liga.
Messi has inspired an entire generation of young and upcoming footballers. Even before he became the all-conquering player he is today, he was an inspiration for footballers all over the world. Several stars of the present including the likes of Paulo Dybala, Thiago Alcântara, Paul Pogba, and Neymar Jr have spoken about how they idolised Messi.
His unfathomable and uncanny ability on the pitch is hard to put into words. What Messi wants, he gets, and has the ball glued to his feet and at his mercy.
It would have been surprising if a player of such unbelievable quality hadn’t etched his name into the history books. That is most certainly not the case with Messi. A record-breaker since the day he took to the pitch, Barcelona’s phenomenal Argentine has a host of records to his name.
On the eve of his 33rd birthday, we take a look at the stunning records held by Lionel Messi.
1. Most goals and hat-tricks in La Liga history
There are nine players to have scored over 200 goals in LaLiga. Out of these nine players, only two have breached the 300-goal mark. Only one of these two forwards has scored over 400 goals.
Perhaps one of the few records set by Messi which isn’t going to be broken any time soon, the Barça skipper is the highest-scoring player in the history of LaLiga.
The now 33-year-old has a staggering 440 LaLiga goals to his name in just 477 games. His tally is 129 goals higher than the next highest-scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, albeit the Portuguese took just 292 games to score 311 goals.
Messi averages a whopping 0.92 goals per game in the league — an astounding achievement given that he’s played since 2004. Only two other players have played more games than Messi on the list of LaLiga’s all-time top-scorers.
The Rosario-native also made a habit of scoring hat-tricks for fun. The Argentine has 36 hat-tricks to his name, at least 13 more than any La Liga player not named Cristiano Ronaldo, who has 34. For some context on how absolutely surreal this number is, the next highest active player on the list is Luis Suárez with ten trebles.
2. Most goals ever scored in a calendar year
Speaking of records that aren’t likely to be broken any time soon, this is another significant record held by the diminutive Argentine.
In the calendar year 2012, Messi found the back of the net 79 times for Barcelona and 12 times for Argentina — taking his total for the year to an unprecedented 91 goals in a year. He broke Gerd Muller’s longstanding record of 85 goals achieved all the way back in 1972.
He was the centrepiece of an all-conquering Barcelona under Pep Guardiola as they rampaged their way to the LaLiga title with 100 points on the board.
Out of his 79 goals for Barcelona, Messi scored 59 in LaLiga, 13 in the Champions League, 5 in the Copa del Rey and 2 in the Spanish Super Cup in 2012. Apart from his 91 goals, he also contributed with 24 assists, taking his goal + assist tally in 2012 to a total of 115.
3. Most Ballons d’Or and European Golden Boots in history
The Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or race was arguably one of the most exciting rivalries at the start of any season. While the latter made up lost ground with wins in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017, the former still reigns supreme.
Messi was awarded the famous golden ball for a record four consecutive years between 2009 and 2012, all of which incidentally happen to be under Guardiola. The Barcelona skipper was given the award again in 2015 after their unprecedented second treble, and then again in 2019 upon Ronaldo’s Real Madrid departure. His tally of six is one more than Cristiano Ronaldo and at least three more than any other footballer in history.
Similarly, Messi also holds the record for the most number of Golden Boots awarded. The prestigious award, given to the highest scorer among the top European divisions, has been won by him on six occasions — the most won by any player. Although he comes in at a lowly sixth place in the race for the 2019/20 Golden Boot, the Argentine could very well go ballistic in the last few games of the campaign.
4. Most goals in a La Liga season
In a similar vein to the previous record, Messi was simply unstoppable under Guardiola. This isn’t to say that he is ‘stoppable’ by any means at the moment either, but his electric pace and athleticism at the time aided his cause.
Although Barcelona lost the LaLiga title to José Mourinho’s Real Madrid in the 2011/12 season, it was a memorable campaign for Messi. The Argentine scored 50 goals in the league that year injust 37 appearances. He was awarded the Pichichi trophy for his surreal effort, and it is a record yet to be broken.
Cristiano Ronaldo came closest to doing so, incidentally, in the very same season. He ended up with 46 strikes to his name.
5. Most UEFA Champions League goals in the group stage, round of 16, and joint-highest hat-tricks
Given the shouts of Messi being the greatest ever, it isn’t surprising to see him dominate the tournament for club football’s most coveted trophy. The Argentina captain has won the Champions League on four separate occasions and has set a host of records in the competition.
Messi has scored the most goals in the group stage in UCL history with 68 goals, five more than the next player on the list. He holds a similar record in the round of 16 as he’s notched up 26 strikes in 29 appearances. This figure is at least 14 goals more than anyone on the list bar Ronaldo, who has 23 to his name.
Speaking of Ronaldo, the Portuguese is tied with Messi for the most number of hat-tricks to have been scored in the tournament. The pair have eight trebles a piece, a figure which is at least five more than any other player in UCL history.
He is the second-highest scorer in the tournament with 114 goals and is only 15 goals behind the former Real Madrid great.
6. Most titles won by a Barcelona player (34)
Over the course of his long and illustrious association with Barcelona, Messi has racked up a ridiculous number of titles along the way. He has won quite literally every trophy available to them and has played a central role in every single one of them.
Messi has won an unprecedented 34 trophies with the Catalans, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey at during his time at the club. Six Supercopas de España, three FIFA Club World Cups and three UEFA Super Cups complete the list of team accolades won by football’s finest ever.
7. Most LaLiga titles won by a foreign player
His 10 LaLiga titles make him the foreigner with the most number of LaLiga titles won in Spanish history. His tally is just two short of an all-time record.
Former Real Madrid legend Paco Gento won a staggering 12 league trophies in his 18-year spell with the club, a figure most certainly in Messi’s sights.
His ten titles are also at least two more than any active LaLiga player, with Sergio Busquets and Gerard Piqué coming in at joint-fourth with eight titles apiece.