Lionel Messi put another feat on his mile-long list of achievements for Barcelona: score 500 goals for the club.
Messi’s injury time winner over Real Madrid in last weekend’s Clasico had two huge implications. First, it put Barca level with Real on the La Liga table, and second: he became the first player in Spain’s history to score 500 goals for a single club.
Last year, when Messi finished with “only” 41 goals for Barcelona, many critics declared that the diminutive attacker was on decline, that he was drained and tired of getting beat up because he is the spear-point of Barcelona’s high-octane offense for the last 10 years.
But he has rebounded this term, scoring 47 goals in 46 games despite playing deep positions more frequently than ever before. Messi leads La Liga with 31 goals, seven ahead of teammate Luis Suarez and 12 above rival Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid.
It is rare to see play so well for such a long time for a single club, especially in the modern times when football has been turned into a global commercial business.
But Messi is doing it with Barcelona, a club he joined in his youth and debuted for as a 17-year-old in 2004. Not only is he doing it, he is also racking trophies and accomplishments on the side.
He joins just more than a handful of players to reach the half-a-thousand mark in goals for a single club, and might soon be in the top three of the lists if he keeps this scoring spree in the next few seasons.
Topping the list is Brazilian legend Pele, who scored around 640 of his more than 1000 career goals with Santos.
Gerd Muller is second with 566 goals for Bayern Munich, followed by Fernando Peyroteo who has 544 with Sporting Lisbon. Josef Bican (534 for Slavia Praha), Jimmy McGrory (522, Celtic), Jimmy Jones (517, Glenavon) and Uwe Seeler (507, Hamburg) round out the list.
Messi, who will turn 30 in June, has scored at least 40 goals in the last eight seasons, so even if you take into account regressions due to age, he might go above those listed above him in that elite club.
NEED TO MAKE ROOM
This season has not been all good to Barcelona and Lio Messi.
It’s true they are on pace to win another double, but Messi and his cohorts got cuffed and handled by Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final, and he got suspended for four games for berating an official while playing for Argentina.
His chances for bagging another Balon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year award is slimmer than usual, but with a goal that impacts the La Liga title race and milestone that has not been achieved in contemporary times, Messi might need to make room for more trophies in his already brimming trophy rack.
Keep it coming, Lio.