PROFILE – Messi: Record-breaker still thirsty for more

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ANKARA 

Barcelona’s Argentine superstar Lionel Messi is a man of records as the 33-year-old skipper added a new milestone to his longtime Barca career.

Messi racked up 768 Barcelona appearances to be the record holder in this field.

Last weekend he skipped a former Barcelona midfielder, Xavi Hernandez, who had his final Barcelona appearance in 2015. Xavi ended his Barcelona career after winning the 2015 UEFA Champions League title in Berlin’s Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium).

Xavi tallied 767 club appearances in his 17-year Barcelona spell.

A pure Barcelona product, Xavi, 41, played for Barca in 1998-2015. The former Spanish international left Barcelona in 2015 to join Qatar’s Al-Sadd. Then he retired from the game in 2019.

The Argentine superstar has broken the Spanish club’s all-time appearance record in a 6-1 win against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Messi, who is a longtime Barcelona forward, beat the club’s many veterans such as Xavi (767 matches), Andres Iniesta (674), Sergio Busquets (618), Carles Puyol (593), and Gerard Pique (558).

Both Busquets and Pique are active Barcelona players.

Messi also scored 663 goals for Barcelona in 768 matches since 2005. In addition to the appearances, Messi is also Barcelona’s all-time top scorer. The Argentine skipper set it in 2012.

Messi scored a hat trick in a 2012 home match against Granada to reach 234 goals, beating Cesar Rodriguez’s record of 232. Cesar played for Barcelona from 1942 to 1955.

91 goals in a year

Messi has always been a prolific forward, but he was even more lethal in 2012.

The Barcelona player scored 91 goals in a single year.

In 2012, Messi netted 79 goals for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina.

He set a world record in this field, beating German legend Gerd Muller’s 85-goal record in 1972.

Messi lifts 34 trophies at Barcelona

One of the famed Barcelona products, Messi bagged 34 titles in senior-level at Barca, including 10 Spanish La Liga and four UEFA Champions League titles.

Besides, he won eight Spanish Super Cups, six Copa del Rey (Spanish King’s Cup), three FIFA Club World Cups and three UEFA Super Cups. Messi had an Olympic gold medal in Beijing 2008.

Separately he won the Ballon d’Or — the top individual football award — six times in total, last in 2019.

Argentina’s top scorer

Messi is also Argentina’s all-time highest goal scorer with 71 international goals.

The 33-year-old broke this record in the 2016 Copa America semifinal against the US, scoring from a free-kick.

His compatriot Gabriel Batistuta found the net 54 times in 78 appearances for Argentina, but Messi overtook him.

Batistuta was one of the iconic Argentine players who retired from the game in 2005.

In the meantime, Messi racked up 142 appearances for the Argentine national team, but he needs to play in six games more to beat Argentina’s most capped player Javier Mascherano.

Retired from football in 2020, Mascherano — a former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder — had 147 appearances for his nation.

Inter Milan’s ex-captain and Nerazzurri veteran Javier Zanetti played in 143 games for Argentina.

Zanetti, 47, quit playing football in 2014 and is currently serving for Inter as a vice president.

Messi is trailing behind Zanetti in Argentina’s all-time appearance standings.

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