Lionel Messi at 35 – PSG, the records, milestones and exploits of the Argentine star

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Lionel Messi celebrates his birthday on Friday when he turns 35.

Messi is also entering the final 12 months of his contract with Paris Saint-Germain (although the club have the option of adding another year) in what could prove to be an important period as he begins to put end to his career.

Of course, there’s no specific reason to suggest that Messi is planning to stop him at the top level, but it stands to reason that given his age and contractual circumstances, it’s possible that 2022-23 could be. his last season in a major tournament. European clubs.

So we thought we’d celebrate the Barcelona and Argentina legend’s big day by looking back at some aspects of his incredible career to date: all he’s achieved, all he has yet to achieve and even some of the big steps he could take. pass again.

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Messi at PSG in 2021-22

Messi made a tearful move to PSG on a free transfer in August 2021 after Barcelona’s €1.2 billion debt prevented them from offering him a new five-year deal.

With Messi having represented just one club since he was 13, the transfer has caused a stir in football, with many wondering if a player of Messi’s gargantuan stature would be able to adapt to a new environment. after so many years of playing HIS way in HIS club. .

Although still far from bad form, Messi struggled to match the formidably high output of his Barca pump, recording the worst single-season goalscoring rate of his entire career in his inaugural campaign. in Paris.

Messi scored 11 goals in 34 games in all competitions in 2021-22 and averaged 0.345 goals per 90 minutes at club level – his lowest return on record and the worst since 2007-08 when he hit a rate goalscoring 0.43 goals per 90 minutes (16 goals in 40 games) in what has been an injury-ravaged campaign for Barca.

However, it was better news on the assists front as Messi participated with 15 in all competitions, although they all came in Ligue 1. This level is broadly consistent with his average assist rate (20 in all compositions) during his previous nine club seasons at Camp Nou.

Messi also managed to add a new gem to his incredible trophy by winning the Ligue 1 title in his debut season – the 35th major club honor of his career.

How Messi and Argentina are preparing for the 2022 World Cup

The next major tournament on Messi’s radar is the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for which Argentina qualified in good time, mathematically securing their place at the tournament with a 0-0 draw against rivals Brazil in November. 2021.

Prior to the aforementioned CONMEBOL qualifier against Brazil, Argentina hadn’t lost a single game in 26 matches (a clear run dating back more than two years) and since that match have gone unbeaten in six more. games in 2022.

Overall, Messi and his teammates are on a 33-game unbeaten streak, having last lost a game in July 2019 when they were knocked out of the Copa America semi-finals via a 2-0 defeat. 0 against eventual champions Brazil. And, in that time, Argentina managed to win the 2021 Copa America – their first major international honor in 28 years – by beating Brazil 1-0 in the final.

On an individual level, Messi has maintained an extremely high level of production for his country and, while his numbers may have gone down for PSG, the striker’s productivity in international football has improved since 2021. indeed, he is posting better stats per 90 minutes for Argentina down the line.

Messi collected two major honors with his country (Copa America 2021, Finalissima 2022) in just 1,769 minutes of football, compared to one honor (Ligue 1 title 2021-22) in 5,489 minutes spent on the pitch for PSG the season last.

Messi also outdid himself in goals scored per 90 minutes (0.76 for Argentina; 0.64 for PSG), shot attempts (4.6 vs 4.5), one-on-one dribbling attempts – header (8.0 vs 6.1), chances created (2.49 vs 10). 2.36), and even ball recoveries (3.1 against 2.1) and tackles (0.71 against 0.49).

Of course, the differences can be explained by the different tactics used by his teams at club and international level, but nevertheless the numbers seem to suggest that Messi likes the ball more and is more efficient when shooting, dribbling, creating opportunities and works off the pitch. ball while playing for Argentina.

Productivity after 35 years

With most professional footballers retiring in their mid-thirties, it’s understandable that productivity usually starts to decline around this point. Now we are well aware that Messi is not ‘most footballers’, but only a handful of players since 2010-11 have managed to amass a total of 20 or more goals in a single season after passing their 35th birthday. .

During that period, a select group of just six veterans achieved the feat across Europe’s five Big Five leagues, with the majority of them doing so in Italy’s Serie A.

Three players have reached 20 goals in a single season twice after turning 35: Luca Toni (2013-14, 2014-15), Antonio Di Natale (2021-13, 2014-15) and Messi’s former rival , Cristiano Ronaldo. – first by mustering 32 goal contributions for Juventus in 2020-21, then again the following season when he tallied 21 goal contributions for Manchester United.

Other players to manage him are Fabio Quagliarella (34 contributions for Sampdoria in 2018-19), Francesco Totti (24 for Roma in 2012-13) and Burak Yilmaz (21 for Lille in 2020-21.)

The records he still holds

Messi’s place in footballing history is already assured, having won 38 senior titles since his debut for Barcelona in October 2004.

Only one player has won more senior competitive trophies during this time, and he happens to have played alongside Messi for the majority: Brazilian right-back Dani Alves leads the way with 40 major honours.

For Messi, the only trophy that has (so far) slipped away has been the FIFA World Cup, which he came so close to winning with Argentina in 2014 before losing to Germany in 2014. final. It is more than likely that Qatar 2022 represents its last chance to right that particular wrong.

When it comes to individual records, Messi continues to hold a wide range that is unlikely to ever be surpassed.

These include (but are certainly not limited to):

— Most official goals for a single club: 672, for Barcelona

– Most assists for a single club: 268, for Barcelona

– Most goals in a single club season: 73, for Barcelona in 2011-12

– Only player to have scored more than 40 goals in 12 consecutive seasons and more than 30 goals in 13 consecutive seasons

– Most goals (27), assists (14) and appearances (45) in The classic derby matches against Real Madrid.

— Guinness World Record for top scorer for club and country in a single calendar year (91 goals in official matches in 2012.)

And believe us, this is really just the tip of a truly monumental iceberg.

to play

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Shaka Hislop explains why he’s completely OK with Messi returning to Barcelona when his contract with PSG ends.

Records/milestones Messi could yet achieve

Both Messi and Ronaldo are set to join the ridiculously exclusive 500 League goals club, according to records kept by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS).

Heading into the 2022-23 campaign, Messi has 480 club goals to his name, putting him 17 goals behind Ronaldo. The 37-year-old Portuguese international, with 497 goals, is set to join Ferenc Puskas (514 goals), Josef Bican (518), Romario (544) and Pele (604) in the biggest of goals. mark pantheons.

In all competitions, Messi has 787 goals and is just 13 more to join Ronaldo (821) as the only two players in history to score 800 or more goals in official matches.

At international level, Messi still has some way to go to catch up with his opponent, having scored 86 goals for Argentina to Ronaldo’s 117 goals for Portugal – which is the current men’s football world record. Iranian Ali Daei (109) is the only other male player to break the 100 mark.

As for the Ballon d’Or, Messi was the second oldest player to win the award in 2021 (34 years, 158 days) and leads the all-time rankings with seven gongs to his name. Ronaldo is his closest rival (5) on this front in the same way he trails Messi in the all-time list of European Golden Boot wins (6-4).

Given that Ronaldo is two years older than Messi, it’s unlikely the former will be able to close the gap before ending his career. That said, Sir Stanley Matthews was 41 years and 320 days old when he won the first Ballon d’Or in 1956, so maybe there’s still time after all!

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