Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is once again in the headlines this week, though for once it is not the Argentine’s extraordinary footballing talents that are making the news.
Speculation has emerged that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner could choose to do the unthinkable and leave the Camp Nou after a much publicised spat with Barcelona chief and former teammate Eric Abidal, with media outlets stirring up a frenzy at the prospect of Messi taking on a new challenge, perhaps in the Premier League.
Now we know there’s next to no chance of Messi actually leaving Barca, but if the mercurial Argentine did decide to make the move to English football, the world’s finest player would arrive with a formidable goalscoring record against Premier League opposition, having proven to be the difference on many a European occasion for the Catalan side.
We’ve decided to look at Messi’s record the top six, which certainly makes for impressive reading, with the world-class attacker having netted more UCL goals against English clubs than any other player in history…
Tottenham – Two goals
Messi would face the north London side for the first time in his career during last season’s Champions League group stages, making an immediate impact as Barcelona secured a comprehensive win at Wembley in their first meeting.
The Argentine superstar would score twice in an entertaining 4-2 victory in London, and with Barcelona’s place in the knock-out stages already assured ahead of the return fixture at the Camp Nou, he would make just a late cameo as a substitute during their second fixture.
Messi’s masterclass would come in the first meeting between the two sides in 36 years, leaving him with a record of two goals in two appearances against Spurs.
Liverpool – Two goals
Liverpool would first face the difficult task in containing Messi during a Champions League last-16 tie in 2007, though the club would shackle the then 19-year-old in admirable fashion, progressing from a two-legged tie that is best remembered for the pre-match golf club incident involving Reds duo Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise.
It would be over a decade until the next clash between the two sides, drawn together in the semi-finals of last season’s competition, Messi taking centre stage to break his duck against the Merseyside club at the third time of asking in the first leg.
A brilliant Messi display would see him score twice as Barcelona secured a 3-0 victory, including one of the tournament’s great free-kicks to put the Spanish giants firmly within reach of the final.
The tie would end in memorable fashion, however, Messi held goalless as Liverpool produced one of the Champions League’s great comebacks, winning 4-0 at Anfield in stunning style before going on to lift the trophy.
Chelsea – Three goals
Perhaps the English side to have best stopped the mesmerising Messi’s talents, Chelsea and Barcelona having enjoyed some classic battles in European competition.
He would go goalless during his first eight fixtures against the west London side, including missing a vital penalty as Chelsea prevailed from a semi-final clash between the two teams on their way to winning the Champions League in 2012.
Messi would score against the Blues for the first time in the first leg of their last-16 meeting in 2018, netting in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, before scoring twice in the return fixture to seal Barcelona’s place in the quarter-final draw.
Manchester United – Four goals
Believe it or not, there was once a time when Messi’s record against English opposition was criticised, though he has proven time and again he is the man to deliver on the biggest of occasions, none more timely than goals in two separate Champions League finals against Manchester United.
Messi would score in victorious showpieces against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in both 2009 and 2011, producing a starring display to be named as the man of the match in the latter final at Wembley.
He would add further to his tally against the Red Devils with two goals in a meeting between the sides in last season’s competition, scoring a brace in a 3-0 quarter-final second leg victory for Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Manchester City – Six goals
Manchester City are believed to be one club closely monitoring Messi’s situation at present, the club hopeful their Catalan links – including the presence of former Barca manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad – could help their bid for an audacious swoop should an unlikely move materialise.
City will be well aware of the talents they would be acquiring, having seen Messi hit six goals in just six appearances against the club, including a brilliant hat-trick during a 4-0 thrashing at the Camp Nou in 2016.
The reigning Ballon d’Or holder has also netted twice in three appearances at the Etihad, showing his abilities to terrorise Premier League defences are not confined solely to home comforts.
Arsenal – Nine goals
Arsenal possess the worst record of all English teams against Messi, conceding nine goals in six appearances against the forward including one of the most breathtaking individual displays in Champions League history.
The Barcelona star would put an end to any criticism over his record against English sides in April 2010, scoring all four goals in a 4-1 victory against the Gunners in the second leg of a quarter-final meeting between the two sides.
Since then Messi has added a further five goals in four appearances, including scoring three times over the two legs of their most recent meeting, in the last-16 four years ago.