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End of an era: How Lionel Messi staked his claim as the GOAT




A Barcelona team without Lionel Messi and a Lionel Messi without Barcelona has been the wildest imagination for most football fans. 

“Leo is Messi and Barca is Leo” was how Barcelona fans brag as the Argentine cruised to titles after titles. While rivals fans chide him for remaining a one-club player. 

Now the stay is over. 

After 17 successful seasons of winning numerous domestic and international titles with the Catalan club, Messi will no longer continue with the Spanish giants after “financial and structural obstacles” prevented him from signing a new deal. 

A statement on the Catalan giants’ official website said: “Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona.”

However, amid the thousands of reactions that have trailed the exit announcement is the new dimension to the GOAT argument. 

For much of his stay at Barcelona, Messi, the little magician, had been in the conversation of the greatest footballer of all time (GOAT). He is often pitted against much travelled rival Cristiano Ronaldo and past great footballers like Ronaldo, Maradona and Pele.

While the GOAT argument is not one that can ever be settled, we look at ten records that favour Messi’s claim as the best footballer ever as we await if Messi can truly replicate his GOAT-esque performance in other clubs. 


  • Messi is the only player in history to win the Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Player, Pichichi Trophy and Golden Boot in the same season. It happened in the 2009/10 season.
  • Messi is the player with the most Ballons d’Or. He has won six. They came in the years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019.
  • Messi is the youngest player to win three Ballons d’Or. He was 24 years, 6 months and 17 days old when he won the third on January 9, 2012.
  • Messi is the footballer with the most Golden Shoes. Has won six. They came in the 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
  • Messi is the top scorer in a season in official competitions. He scored 73 goals in 2011/12 (50 in the League, 14 in the Champions League, 3 in the Copa del Rey, 3 in the Spanish Super Cup, 1 in the European Super Cup and 2 in the Club World Cup)
  • Messi is the all-time top scorer in a calendar year. He scored 91 official goals in 2012. With Barça, 84 (59 in the League, 13 in the Champions League, 5 in the Copa del Rey and 2 in the Super Cup) and with the Argentine national team, 12. He also managed another 5 in friendlies with Barça, which would see the figure rise to a total of 96 goals.
  • Messi holds the highest record of international goals in one year. He scored 25 goals in 2012 (13 in the Champions League and 12 with the Argentine national team), and shares the record with Vivian John Woodward, who scored 25 in 1909.
  • Messi is the top scorer for the same club. As of May 27, he has 672 goals, surpassing the 643 that Pelé scored with Santos between 1956 and 1974.
  • Messi has the longest scoring streak in the league. He scored 33 goals in 21 consecutive matches from matchday 11 to 34 in the 2012/13 league season.
  • Messi is the absolute top scorer in a season. He scored 73 official goals in 2011/12 (50 in the league, 14 in the Champions League, 3 in the Cup, 3 in the Spanish Super Cup, 1 in the European Super Cup and 2 in the Club World Cup) and 2 more in friendly matches.
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