The Barcelona Years – from miracle baby to megastar
Wunderkind. The Little Wizard. Boy Wonder. All these excellent words have been fitting for Messi from the moment he entered La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy, in the early 2000s. Gifted with all the talent in the world, Messi has created a remarkable legacy in Catalonia that is unlikely ever to be surpassed. There was not a single record he did not break, not a single trophy he did not win in his 17-year career. There was a time when it was impossible to imagine Messi without Barcelona, nor Barcelona without Messi.
He played a total of 778 games for Barcelona and scored 672 goals in all competitions, a record for the Catalan grandees. In La Liga he scored 474 goals in 520 games.
The Argentine made his first-team debut for the club in 2003 at the age of 16 and soon became a regular player in the starting lineup, occupying the right wing and playing with his left foot under Frank Rijkaard. At the time he played a supporting role alongside superstars such as Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o.
That all changed when Pep Guardiola took charge in the summer of 2008, which was the beginning of Messi’s journey to becoming the best footballer in the world. Under Guardiola, he took a more central position and was given the freedom to move wherever he wanted, becoming a mainstay of the tiki-taka revolution that stunned the soccer world.
Years at PSG – Blunt Trident
After a careless end to his brilliant career at Barcelona, Messi moved to PSG in August 2021 on a two-year deal with an option for an additional year. The attacking trio of Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe was an appetizing prospect on paper. But for the first time in his career, Messi seemed to be having trouble adjusting to the environment. After PSG lost to Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16, he and Neymar were even booed by some PSG fans in the championship match against Bordeaux. By the end of the season, his league goals had not reached double digits for the first time since 2005-06.
The 2022-23 season was markedly better for the Argentine, scoring 16 goals in 31 league games. That he won the coveted World Cup for Argentina midway through the campaign was, of course, an unbeatable achievement.
Most productive season: 2011/12
For much of his Barcelona career, it was commonplace for Messi to score at least a goal in every match. ОHowever, even by his lofty standards, the 2011/12 season was one of the most outstanding. He has 73 goals in 60 games, a ratio of 1.21 goals per game. Messi scored 50 goals in La Liga that season, a record that is likely to stand the test of time.
Oddly enough, however, Barcelona did not have a very successful season. They did not win either La Liga or the Champions League, settling for just the Copa del Rey.
There is no trophy at Barcelona that Messi has not lifted. Although there were many good players in the beautiful game, greatness is ultimately measured by the number of trophies in the cupboard. In this respect, Messi is absolutely peerless. He has won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League titles. He has also won the Copa del Rey, Spain’s premier cup tournament, seven times. He has won the Uefa Super Cup and the Club World Cup three times each.
His time at PSG, as one would expect, was not so fruitful. Although he won the French championship in 2021/22 and 2022/23, the Champions League crown eluded PSG’s plethora of stars.