Perhaps the greatest footballer to ever don a pair of cleats, Lionel Messi, who was dubbed the heir to the incomparable Diego Maradona, has left no stone unturned in his stellar career.
A winner of two trebles with FC Barcelona, the diminutive Argentine holds a plethora of records, some of which are likely to never be emulated or surpassed. Under current Manchester City and former FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, Messi elevated himself from football's greatest talent to its number one star and has since become one of the best players in the world.
The all-time leading scorer of his club and the Argentina national team, Messi has won 10 La Liga titles, six Copa Del Rey titles, eight Spanish Super Cup titles and four Champions League titles in his career. Messi has also won the Ballon d’Or - France Football's Player of the Year award, the European Golden Shoe and the Pichichi, the award presented to the top scorer in La Liga, all six times.
Messi has also scored in two Champions League finals, both against Manchester United in 2009 and 2011, and holds the record for most goals in a calendar year when he smashed 91 in 2012. The Argentine is also La Liga's top scorer from free kicks.
Go through the record books and you will find Messi’s name ad infinitum. However, there are still a few records that the Argentine superstar is yet to conquer, and we take a look at few that he’s close to making his own:
Most Pichichi trophies
Over the years, Messi has won the Pichichi – La Liga’s golden shoe – in each of the last three campaigns and is also currently the top scorer in the Spanish top-flight, leading Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema.
If Messi wins the Pichichi for the fourth time in a row at the end of this campaign, it’ll be his seventh, breaking a tie with Telmo Zarra, who won six Pichichis in the 40s and 50s, for most all-time.
Most goals and assists in the Champions League
Lionel Messi has usually gotten the better of his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo in almost every competition, except the Champions League. The Portuguese superstar has won Europe’s top club honour five times, once with Manchester United and four times with Real Madrid, and with 128 goals and 36 assists, Ronaldo is the greatest marksman in Champions League history.
Messi is second on both lists – goals and assists – behind Ronaldo, with 114 goals and 32 assists, but given that the Portuguese superstar is a couple of years older than the FC Barcelona star, Messi will definitely finish with more assists and likely more goals as well, but it remains to be seen if the Argentine can emulate the Juventus forward and claim a fifth Champions League title.
Most hat tricks in the history of the game
It’s Ronaldo versus Messi, yet again.
The Portuguese legend has scored 56 career hat tricks while Messi trails him by just two with 54. While his record is still pretty sensational, Ronaldo hasn’t been the free-scoring menace in Serie A with Juventus that he was in La Liga with Real Madrid. Messi also surpassed Ronaldo in La Liga with his 35th hat-trick against Real Mallorca in December and added a 36th against Eibar in February.
With the duo tied on eight hat-tricks in the Champions League, it remains to be seen who will finish with the most ever.
Most goals for a single club
When Pele left Santos in 1974 after scoring 643 goals for the club, everyone believed that record will pass the test of time.
However, fast-forward 46 years and ironically, an Argentine sits just 14 goals from that record. Another Messi goal will most definitely surpass Pele’s record for most goals for a single club.
The question beckons, whether Messi can achieve it this season or next. It would be poetic if Messi scores a hat-trick in the Champions League final in Lisbon and surpasses Pele while also claiming the trophy for the fifth time in his career.
Most appearances for FC Barcelona
This one is pretty straight forward.
Xavi Hernandez, one of the greatest midfielders the sport has ever seen, made 767 appearances for his boyhood club in a career spanning 17 years.
Messi reportedly has come close to leaving Barcelona on a couple of occasions with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Inter Milan showing interest in acquiring his services, but the Argentine stayed put and is close to becoming the highest appearance maker in club history.
Messi is currently on 722 appearances and needs 46 more to surpass the great Spaniard as the all-time leading appearance maker for FC Barcelona.
Messi has also surpassed Xavi and Iniesta for trophies won with Barcelona and is now just two shy of Ryan Giggs' record for most trophies won with the same club. The Welsh winger won 36 trophies in his two-decade-long stint with the English giants.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Pau Barrena