Lionel Messi is really good, isn’t he?
Unless you’ve been living on another planet entirely for much of the past two decades, we’re sure you’re probably pretty aware of that grand understatement.
Messi has made goalscoring genius appear almost normal during an incredible career at Barcelona, one that appears to have reached its conclusion after the club confirmed they cannot afford to renew his deal.
Should this really be the end of Messi in Catalonia, he will leave as the greatest player in Barcelona’s history having scored a record-breaking 672 goals in 778 appearances, with Messi have reached the 30-goal landmark for a barely believable 13 consecutive seasons.
Following the shock news of Messi’s exit, we’ve decided to look back and appreciate his remarkable goalscoring record for Barcelona since 2008.
2008/09 – 38 goals
After hitting 33 goals over the previous two campaigns, Messi was beginning to underline his status as one of the world’s most exciting talents, before enjoying a brilliant breakthrough during a historic 2008/09 campaign.
Barcelona had appointed Pep Guardiola from the club’s B team as the Frank Rijkaard era ended at the Camp Nou, a new dawn ushered in as established names in Deco and Ronaldinho departed.
Messi revelled amid the added responsibility and finished as the Catalan’s leading scorer with 38 goals, including the crucial second in the Champions League final as Barcelona completed a historic treble of league, cup and continental success.
Forming a brilliant forward line alongside Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry, the trio scored a century of goals combined as Barcelona conquered all before them.
2009/10 – 47 goals
Messi’s achievements the previous season saw him win a first Ballon d’Or and he retained the accolade following a 47-goal season in 2009/10, adding the European Golden Shoe to his individual accolades alongside La Liga, Club World Cup, Spanish Super Cup and UEFA Super Cup winners’ medals with Barcelona.
Amongst his highlights included a four-goal destruction of Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-finals, though he was unable to help Barcelona defend the trophy after losing to Inter Milan.
He did, however, average almost a goal-per-game in the league with 34 goals in 35 La Liga appearances.
2010/11 – 53 goals
Perhaps the season when Pep Guardiola’s side reached their incredible peak, Messi was once again the leading light as tiki-taka wowed Europe and Barcelona were crowned Champions League winners again.
Messi was at his brilliant best to score 53 goals in all competitions, including dismantling Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals and scoring again in the final win over Manchester United at Wembley, winning a third consecutive Ballon d’Or in the process.
2011/12 – 73 goals
The most prolific season of Messi’s career and in European football history, the Argentina international scored a record-breaking 73 goals during a stunning season of individual success in 2011/12.
Messi obliterated Gerd Muller’s long-standing landmark and scored a record 50 goals in La Liga alone, though his incredible performances failed to lead to team honours as Barcelona lost the title to Real Madrid and exited the Champions League to Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Messi won a fourth Ballon d’Or however, after scoring 73 goals in just 60 appearances in all competitions, alongside a further 29 assists for an unfathomable 102 goal involvements for the season.
2012/13 – 60 goals
Barcelona started the 2012/13 season under new management with Tito Villanova replacing Guardiola, the new head coach reclaiming the title from Real Madrid with a record-equalling 100 points.
Barcelona led the title race from start to finish and scored in each of their 38 league matches, Messi netting 46 in La Liga and 60 across all competitions.
That haul included scoring in a record 21 consecutive league games, a sequence that accounted for a huge 33 goals. He finished the calendar year of 2012 with an astonishing 91 goals, scoring 79 for Barcelona and a further 12 for the Argentina national side.
2013/14 – 41 goals
It’s bizarre to think that a 41-goal season could ever be classed as disappointing, but following the extraterrestrial heights of the previous campaigns both Barcelona and Messi suffered a dip in 2013/14.
Messi’s 28 goals saw him finish as runner-up to Cristiano Ronaldo amongst Spain’s top scorers, whilst the Catalan club failed to win a major trophy as the Gerardo Martino era proved fruitless – Spanish Super Cup aside.
2014/15 – 58 goals
Having suffered heartbreak after losing the 2014 World Cup final with Argentina, Messi responded in some style with another superb season to inspire Barcelona to a treble under Luis Enrique.
He hit 58 goals in all competitions as the Catalans won La Liga, the Copa del Rey and Champions League, forming one of modern football’s most iconic front threes alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar.
That season saw the Argentine become Spanish football’s all-time record scorer, alongside adding a fifth Ballon d’Or to his collection.
2015/16 – 41 goals
Barcelona retained their position as Spain’s dominant force with a domestic double in 2015/16, Messi once again outstanding to score 41 goals in all competitions.
Despite another extraordinary total, however, Messi finished as only the second-highest scorer amongst Barcelona’s ranks with teammate Luis Suarez winning La Liga’s Pichichi Trophy.
Suarez scored 40 league goals and 59 in all competitions with the Camp Nou home to two of the world’s finest forwards at that time.
2016/17 – 54 goals
Messi won the European Golden Shoe for the first time since 2012/13 and fourth time overall during the 2016/17 season, netting 54 goals for Barcelona with 37 of those coming in the league – eight more than Luis Suarez and a huge 13 ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s magic was not enough to seal the title as Real Madrid were crowned champions, though he added a fifth career Copa del Rey after netting the opener in the final win over Alaves.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of Messi’s season game against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, scoring twice – including a last-minute winner for his 500th Barca goal – in a pulsating Clásico in the capital.
2017/18 – 45 goals
Messi breached the 40-goal barrier for the ninth consecutive campaign in 2017/18, his goals helping Barcelona to a domestic double-winning season under Ernesto Valverde.
Barcelona took control of the title race in September and came close to completing an entire league season without defeat, losing just once for the season in a 5-4 thriller in their penultimate game against Levante.
He retained the European Golden Shoe and was named as Spain’s finest footballer for a record sixth time.
2018/19 – 51 goals
Andres Iniesta’s departure saw Messi inherit the captain’s armband in 2018/19, the forward responding by netting 51 goals in all competitions as a second successive league title headed to Catalonia.
Messi became the first player in history to win the European Golden Shoe in three consecutive campaigns, taking him to six accolades overall and two clear of Cristiano Ronaldo in second.
The campaign also saw Messi level Telmo Zarra’s record of six Pichichi Trophies as Spain’s leading scorer, whilst he netted his 400th La Liga goal and 50th career hat-trick in a season of milestone moments.
2019/20 – 31 goals
Just the 31 goals for Messi in 2019/20, but a season which showcased the all-round ability of arguably football’s greatest ever player.
The Argentine became just the second player in history – after Thierry Henry in 2002/03 – to register 20+ goals and assists in a single season in one of Europe’s top-five leagues, breaking former teammate Xavi’s landmark for most La Liga assists in a campaign.
He finished as Spain’s leading scorer for a fourth consecutive campaign and record-breaking seventh time in his career, his performances rewarded with a sixth Ballon d’Or, another record feat after moving past long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
2020/21 – 38 goals
What looks like being Messi’s final season as a Barcelona player saw the forward score 38 goals across all competitions, finishing as the leading scorer in Spanish football for a fifth season in succession.
Messi’s moved past the 30-goal landmark with a match-winning salvo in the Copa del Rey final, having began a blistering run of form from the turn of the New Year.
The 34-year-old has scored 28 goals in all competitions in 2021 alone, moving beyond Karim Benzema and Gerard Moreno as La Liga’s most prolific player.
His goals were ultimately not enough to see Barcelona crowned champions as the Catalans finished the season third, falling just adrift of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in a three-way fight for the title.
Messi’s 38-goal season saw him move to 672 goals in all competitions for Barcelona, more than the next three players in the club’s all-time rankings – Cesar Rodriguez, Luis Suarez and
László Kubala – scored combined.