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Ranking the highest-scoring seasons of Lionel Messi’s career

Lionel Messi’s career has been one of record-breaking feats and jaw-dropping moments, with the Argentine genius recognised by many as the finest footballer of all time.

Messi won a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or title in 2023, having inspired Argentina to World Cup success last winter to add another unforgettable chapter to his captivating career.

The 36-year-old’s career is currently winding down in the sunshine of Miami, after a list of achievements that includes 704 senior club goals scored in European football.

 

Here, we remember the highest-scoring seasons of Lionel Messi’s club career.

Ranking the highest-scoring seasons of Lionel Messi’s career:

5. 2010/11 – 53 goals

Messi breached the 50-goal barrier in all competitions for the first time in 2010/11, becoming Barcelona’s record scorer in a single campaign and the first player in Spanish football history to reach a half-century in one season.

Messi won his second – and second consecutive – Ballon d’Or in the opening months of the campaign, which began with a hat-trick against Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup.

He ended the season with 31 goals and 18 assists in La Liga as Barcelona won a third consecutive league title, though missed out to Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Pichichi Trophy (40).

However, Messi top-scored in Europe with 12 goals as the Catalans won the Champions League, scoring twice in the semi-final win over Real Madrid and another in the final defeat of Manchester United at Wembley.

4. 2016/17 – 54 goals

Messi scored 54 goals in all competitions for Barcelona in 2016/17, though his league-leading 37 goals in La Liga were not enough to lead the Spaniards to the title, as Real Madrid were crowned champions ahead of their arch-rivals.

Messi’s return did earn the Argentine the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga’s leading scorer for a fourth time, however, ending the campaign eight goals clear of runner-up and teammate Luis Suarez, with Cristiano Ronaldo third (25).

His 37-goal return also saw Messi win the European Golden Shoe, beating Sporting Lisbon striker Bas Dost and Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the honour, his fourth career award.

Highlights of Messi’s campaign included a Champions League hat-trick against Manchester City, and two goals – including a stoppage-time winner – in an El Clasico win over Real Madrid.

The latter goal was Messi’s 500th in a Barcelona shirt, and was followed with an iconic celebration as he held his shirt aloft to the Bernabeu crowd.

3. 2014/15 – 58 goals

Luis Enrique’s side swept to a continental treble during the 2014/15 season, as Barcelona’s famous ‘MSN’ frontline of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar conquered all.

The trio combined for 122 goals in all competitions, a record for a trio in a single season in Spanish football history, with Messi leading the way with 58.

Messi broke the 40-goal barrier in La Liga for the third time in his career, scoring 43 goals in just 38 games for Enrique’s free-scoring side.

In November, he became La Liga’s all-time leading scorer after netting a hat-trick against Sevilla, moving past Telmo Zarra’s record which had stood for 59 years.

The most memorable goal of Messi’s season came in the Copa del Rey final, as the Argentine beat four Athletic Bilbao defenders in a solo run from the halfway line. It remains one of the greatest goals scored in a career packed full of special moments.

2. 2012/13 – 60 goals

Messi has twice surpassed 60 goals in a season, including during a prolific 2012/13 campaign.

Barcelona were in their first season post-Pep Guardiola and won the La Liga title with a record-equalling 100 points, as Tito Vilanova’s team led the league for the entire campaign.

Messi ended the campaign with 46 league goals for Barcelona, during a record-breaking year of feats. The forward overtook Cesar Rodriguez as Barcelona’s leading scorer in La Liga, and broke former Bayern Munich forward Gerd Muller’s 40-year record for the most goals scored in a calendar year.

Messi ended 2012 having hit a record 91 goals in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina.

1. 2011/12 – 73 goals

The 2011/12 season is the most prolific of Messi’s career and a campaign which kickstarted his run to breaking Gerd Muller’s aforementioned record.

Messi scored a record-breaking 50 goals in just 37 La Liga appearances and 73 goals in all competitions, breaking another Muller record for the most goals scored in a single season in the history of European club football.

Despite Messi’s remarkable return, Barcelona missed out on the La Liga title to Real Madrid, while the Catalans also fell at the semi-final stage of the Champions League.

Consolation was found with wins in the Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, with Messi scoring in each of those final victories.

Read – Five times Lionel Messi lit up the Champions League

See also – Ranking the highest-scoring seasons in Cristiano Ronaldo’s club career

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