Regarded by many as the GOAT (greatest of all time), Leo Messi is a footballer like no other. Blessed with superhuman ball control, lightning pace, telepathic awareness and a phenomenal goal-scoring ability, he’s brought joy to football fans the world over.
Let’s take a look at just why Messi is so special and why it’s unlikely that we’ll see another player of his type for a very, very long time.
Player profile: Style of play
When Messi first burst onto the scene as a 17 year old at Barcelona, the comparisons with Argentine legend Diego Maradona were immediate. The same deadly left foot. The same low centre of gravity. The same incredible ability to slalom past opponents as if they weren’t there.
Still, few would have believed that Messi could go on to outperform Maradona throughout his career. From his favourite position on the pitch – starting on the right side of the attack and cutting in – he has devastated defences season after season, with a level of consistent brilliance unlike anything we’ve ever seen on a football pitch.
Quite simply, he is an artist with the ball at his feet.
Messi has scored 752 goals in 935 games (0.80 goals per game). The highest scoring average that Lionel Messi has ever had is 1.23 goals per game, achieved in 2011/2012.
Professional football career
For many years, Leo Messi was the very definition of a one club wonder, spending his career devoted to Barça. He won trophy after trophy, topped the goalscoring charts time and again (battling it out with Cristanio Ronaldo every year) and racked up seven Ballon d’Or wins, before his move to PSG shook the world of football. Can he replicate his success with the French giants?
Here’s a rundown of Messi’s playing career so far and what we can expect next from the little magician.
As Barcelona’s talisman for so long, Messi enjoyed a long period of success at Camp Nou. Making his debut as a floppy-haired wonderkid in 2004 at the age of just 17, only a few years after being told he was too small to play football, he soon became crucial to the Catalan club.
Major injuries delayed his progress but, within a few years, Messi was destroying defences on a regular basis. In the 2009/2010 season, he picked up his first Ballon d’Or award and, over the next decade he smashed goalscoring records and helped turn the Barcelona side of that era into one of the greatest club teams in the history of football.
Paris Saint Germain
After 17 seasons at Barcelona, Messi made an emotional exit, leaving for French giants Paris Saint Germain in controversial circumstances. Now in his mid-thirties, Messi’s time at PSG may be limited, but he has the chance to win even more trophies.
Linking up with world class players like Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, Messi could inspire PSG to finally land their long awaited first Champions League trophy. Beyond that, his arrival at PSG has sparked Messi mania in Ligue 1, giving French football fans a whole new level of excitement. (Read our PSG betting odds & predictions – Messi’s current team.)
Argentina National Football Team
Messi has pretty much been the main man for the Argentina national team since he made his debut 17 years ago. He now has the most appearances and goals of any player in the history of the Argentine national team – he’s scored 80 goals in 158 appearances.
Up until recently though, Messi hadn’t won a single trophy at international level. Then, in the summer of 2021, after a 1–0 win over Brazil in the Copa America final, he helped Argentina to their first trophy since 1993. He was directly involved in nine out of the 12 goals scored by Argentina in the tournament, with four goals and five assists. He was later named player of the tournament.
Lionel Messi: Stats
- Messi has won seven Ballon d’Or awards in total – more than any other player in history.
- Not just a goalscoring machine, Messi has notched up a total of 226 assists throughout his career.
- Still, football comes down to goals and there are few better goalscorers than Messi – he holds the record for the most goals scored in La Liga (474), and most scored in La Liga and Europe combined in a single season (50).
- He’s scored a career total of 758 goals for club and country.
- Over the course of his career, Messi has scored an astonishing 55 hat tricks.