Lionel Messi will NOT be a Barcelona player next season after the club confirmed the forward’s departure, the Spanish side’s precarious financial situation meaning a new deal cannot be completed.
Despite the six-time Ballon d’Or winners willingness to take a 50% pay cut to remain at the Camp Nou, he has been informed it will not be possible to renew his contract as cash-strapped Barcelona look to comply with La Liga’s financial fair play rulings.
His exit amid the club’s financial mess brings an end to an unforgettable era, with Messi having established himself as the best player in Barcelona’s – and arguably the sport’s – history over the past two decades.
Statistics tell only a fraction of the story of Messi’s gifted genius with the Argentine having been captivating to watch in the Catalan’s colours, but we’ve decided to run through some of the mind-boggling numbers behind his legendary Barcelona career.
No player has ever made more appearances for Barcelona than Messi, having moved past fellow club great and former teammate Xavi during the 2020/21 season.
Messi eclipsed Xavi’s 767-game landmark during a clash against Real Sociedad in March, with modern icons Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Carles Puyol rounding out the top five.
Those 778 appearances have seen Messi score an astonishing 672 goals across all competitions, an incredible 440 more goals than the second-placed man on the list of the club’s all-time leading scorers, Cesar Rodriguez.
Messi’s total is in fact more than the next three players in Barcelona’s history combined, with the hauls of Rodriguez, Luis Suarez and László Kubala still some 48 goals short of Messi’s record-breaking number.
If you scored 40 goals a season for 15 years, you'd retire with 600 goals to your name.
Lionel Messi scored 672 goals for Barcelona ⚽ pic.twitter.com/wZvM4JkX8M
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 6, 2021
10 x La Liga champion
Messi’s 17-season career as a senior player at Barcelona has seen the club crowned Spanish champions on 10 occasions, with the brilliance of their diminutive Argentine contributing to the most successful period in the Catalan’s history.
Messi won the first of his La Liga titles during the 2004/05 season, having become Barcelona’s second-youngest ever player when making his debut as a 17-year-old that season.
His 10 La Liga winners’ medals are the joint-most in Spanish football history, level with Real Madrid icon Pirri.
4 x Champions League winner
Having won just one Champions League title in the pre-Messi era, Barcelona are now five time champions of Europe with the forward having been at the forefront of their success.
Messi played a bit-part role in the Catalan club’s 2006 triumph, but starred as a continental treble was won under Pep Guardiola in 2008/09 – scoring in the final win over Manchester United.
He netted against the same opposition as Barcelona won the 2011 final at Wembley, before adding a fourth winner’s medal following victory over Juventus in 2015, sealing a second treble success.
7 x Copa del Rey winner
Messi shares the record for most Copa del Rey wins with Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique, having won the Spanish cup on seven occasions.
His final season at Barcelona saw Messi earn a seventh winners’ medal, producing a scintillating showing – including two goals – as Athletic Bilbao were thrashed in March.
Most La Liga goals – 474
It will come as no surprise to see that Messi leads the all-time La Liga standings for goals scored, having netted 474 times in just 520 appearances in Spain’s top division – 163 more than second-placed Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi became the youngest player to reach 200 goals in the division aged just 25 years and 7 months, before eclipsing Telmo Zarra’s landmark after scoring his 252nd and 253rd top flight goals against Sevilla in 2014.
Most goals in a single La Liga season – 50 (2011/12)
Messi obliterated the single season La Liga goalscoring record during a sensational 2011/12 campaign, scoring 50 goals in just 37 games for Barcelona in an extraordinary individual campaign.
The Argentine’s haul was part of 73 in all competitions to beat Gerd Muller’s long-standing record, whilst he also eclipsed the German great after notching a record-breaking 91 goals in the calendar year.
It seems absurd to think that these numbers will ever be broken.
Most consecutive league appearances scored in – 21 (2012/13)
The following season saw Messi break the record for most consecutive league fixtures scored in, implausibly netting in 21 successive games for Barcelona during the 2012/13 campaign.
His streak included 33 goals during that period, whilst he also netted against all 19 opponents, a landmark he shares with Cristiano Ronaldo (2011/12).
Most Pichichi awards (La Liga top goalscorer): 8
Messi eclipsed Telmo Zarra once again after winning his seventh Pichichi Award in 2019/20, with a record-extending eighth accolade secured during the 2020/21 campaign.
Messi finished as Spain’s leading scorer for the first time during the 2009/10 season and outscored the rest of La Liga in each of his final five seasons at Barcelona – his run of five straight wins another divisional record.
Most La Liga assists – 192
Far from just an otherworldy goalscorer, there’s a fair argument that Messi may just be the best passer the game has seen.
The statistics certainly back that statement with no player having managed more than his 192 assists, with former teammate Xavi the only other player to have passed a century.
Most assists in a single La Liga season – 21
Messi broke yet another record after bettering Xavi’s landmark for most assists in a single season, registering 21 for the campaign during a brilliant 2019/20.
The Argentine finished as the leading goalscorer and assist provider in La Liga, becoming just the second player – after Arsenal’s Thierry Henry in 2002/03 – to provide 20+ goals and 20+ assists in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
2011-12: 50 goals
2019-20: 21 assists
Lionel Messi is now La Liga's single-season record goalscorer and assist provider 🐐 pic.twitter.com/khdJExghNe
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 20, 2020
Most wins in La Liga history: 378
The presence of the world’s best player in their side has led to plenty of success for Barcelona, with no player having amassed more wins than Messi in La Liga history.
Messi has won 378 of his 520 appearances in Spain’s top tier – an impressive win ratio of 72.69%
Only player to score 30+ goals in 9 different seasons
Messi is the only player to have scored 30+ goals in nine separate La Liga seasons, an incredible example of both his quality and consistency in recent years.
To put his exploits into contrast, Alan Shearer holds the record with three 30+goal seasons in the Premier League and remains the only player to have achieved the feat on multiple occasions.
Two of Shearer’s 30-goal campaigns also came when the Premier League was a 42-game season.
Lionel Messi is the only player in LaLiga history to score 30+ goals in NINE different seasons:
◉ 2009/10 (34)
◉ 2010/11 (31)
◉ 2011/12 (50)
◉ 2012/13 (46)
◉ 2014/15 (43)
◉ 2016/17 (37)
◉ 2017/18 (34)
◉ 2018/19 (36)
◉ 2020/21 (30)
Incredible. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/I1GP7ecOot
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 5, 2021
Messi has also scored 30+ goals in all competitions in a staggering 13 consecutive seasons for Barcelona, failing to finish below the total since a 16-goal season as a teenager in 2007/08.
Most goals scored from direct free kicks: 36
There’s not much that Lionel Messi can’t do within the confines of a football pitch, including becoming one of the best set-piece takers of his generation.
Messi has scored 36 direct free-kicks in La Liga since his Barcelona debut, more than any other player in the competition’s history.