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22nd Nov 2014

Lionel Messi – 253 and counting

Lionel Messi is now the top goalscorer of all time in La Liga

Darragh Murphy

Lionel Messi breaks records like we mortals break iPhones, all too bloody often.

Tonight he moved past Telmo Zarra, who scored 251 goals for Athletic Bilbao between 1940 and 1955, in the La Liga all time goalscorer charts after netting goals number 251, 252 and 253 in Barcelona’s 5-1 victory over Sevilla.

To mark the magic one’s new honour, we look at each of his ten years at the peak of  Spanish football.

2004-05 (1 La Liga goal)

Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini, aged just 17 years and 114 days, was given his competitive debut by Frank Rijkaard on 16 October 2004 against RCD Espanyol after impressing for Barcelona’s B and C teams. The little magician had to wait seven months for his first senior goal, however, which came against Albacete Balompie on 1 May 2005, Messi was 17 years, ten months and seven days old which made him, at the time, the youngest player to score in La Liga.

2005-06 (6)

People starting taking notice of the Argentinian this season as Messi made his Champions League debut on 27 September 2005 against Udinese and impressed so much that he received a standing ovation as he left the pitch. A thigh injury cut his season short but, up to then, he had already found the net six times in La Liga and once in Europe. In early 2006, Diego Maradona was quoted as saying “I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentinian football and his name is Messi.”

Barcelona v Sevilla

2006-07 (14)

Messi really began establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in world football as he cemented himself in Barcelona’s first team. Again though, an injury halted the young man’s progress after a broken metatarsal ruled him out for 12 weeks in November. Messi came back though and finished the season on a high note scoring 11 times in his last 13 games. In March, he became the youngest player to score in El Clasico after he recorded a hat-trick against Barcelona’s fiercest rivals. He was doing nothing to distance himself from comparisons to Diego Maradona, however, with this goal against Getafe being uncannily similar to his hero’s famous goal for Argentina against England.

2007-08 (10)

Leo started to boss games in the Champions League, providing six goals and one assist in Barcelona’s run that saw them reach the semi-finals of the European campaign. Yet another injury ruled him out for a month but that did nothing to lower him in the estimation of the football world as he finished third in the Ballon d’Or, behind Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.


2008-09 (23)

From 19 to 10, Lionel Messi took the number 10 jersey from Ronaldinho after the Brazilian left for AC Milan. Leo did not just take the squad number from Ronaldinho, he also took over the guaranteed goals that Barcelona relied on from the Brazilian playmaker. This was the first season in which Messi became the goalscoring machine that we know and love. He rattled home a whopping 38 goals in all competitions this season to guide Barcelona to the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League.

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

2009-10 (34)

This season saw Messi transform in terms of his playing position on the pitch. Up to this stage, Leo had been best used on the right flank as a winger who could collect the ball from deep and cut in on the left leg which became the deadliest weapon in world football. At the start of the 2009 campaign though, manager Pep Guardiola revealed that he would begin to use Messi (who Guardiola said was the best player he’s seen) in the more central false number 9 role. This obviously worked and soon Messi began bettering his hat-tricks that he had become so accustomed to. He fired four goals in a game for the first time in his career in a 4-1 Champions League tie with Arsenal. He finished the season with 47 goals in all competitions, matching Ronaldo’s tally from 1996-97. He was duly rewarded with the Ballon d’Or.

FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2010

2010-11 (31)

Having gotten sick of breaking other people’s records, Messi started breaking his own. The little superstar took surpassed the 47 goals that he scored the previous time around, in 2010-2011 he fired home a ludicrous 53 times as well as chipping in with 24 assists in all competitions. Messi’s best form was saved for Europe as he found the net 12 times in Barca’s Champions League run towards their third victory in the competition in six years.

2011-12 (50)

Late in this season, Leo became Barcelona’s leading goalscorer after he overtook César Rodríguez’s 232 goals which prompted certain representatives of footballing royalty to laud the Argentinian who was most definitely in his prime at 24. Johan Cruyff chimed in, saying – “For the world of football, he is a treasure because he is a role model for children around the world. In the space of half a metre, he can move right or left – it is like he has the ball attached to his body. Maradona was also a little bit like this, and it could be because they are both low centre of gravity.”

FC Barcelona v FC Spartak Moscow - UEFA Champions League

2012-13 (46)

Another record came a-tumbling down as Messi got on the scoresheet against Celta de Vigo on 30 March which meant he had scored in 19 consecutive games. He became the first player in La Liga history to score against every team in the league in consecutive matches. He finished the season with 60 goals to his name and 16 assists in all competitions.

2013-14 (28)

Messi’s tendency to shine in March became even more evident this season when he scored a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4–3 win against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu. These goals made Leo the top goalscorer in El Clasico, taking over from Alfredo di Stefano. This game is also the game that put Lionel Messi into second place in the overall La Liga goalscorer standings. 2013-14 was a quiet season for the Argentinian by his towering standards as he finished with 41 goals and 15 assists (not bad to be fair) but he was forced to relinquish his Ballon d’Or to his perpetual rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga


2014-15 (10)

He’s done it! Against Sevilla this evening, Lionel Messi became joint top goalscorer in La Liga with this absolute peach of a free kick to make it 251 league goals. Not a bad way at all to tie such a prestigious record.

But Lionel Messi’s not one to stagnate. 50 minutes later, he had moved to the top of the standings with this instinctive finish for his 252nd goal which was appropriately celebrated.

But Messi’s quite partial to a hat-trick and tonight was the 20th time he’s bagged one in La Liga. His final goal of the game was arguably the most Messi goal of the bunch, a treat to watch.

253 … and counting

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