We know almost everything about Lionel Messi. Every part of his game has been scrutinised for over a decade and every touch marvelled over. So there is very little that we don’t know about the Argentine, or so we thought. The boffins at The Sportsman HQ have been doing some digging and put together some of the most interesting and surprising statistics from his career so far. Here we go…
The best place to start. Although Messi is more than just a goalscorer his statistics for finding the net are simply phenomenal. He has scored 603 goals in total, 39 hat-tricks and 124 braces, with 169 of those goals being ‘winning goals’. Messi seems to improve in the second half and the stats back that up. He has 338 goals in the second half compared to ‘just’ 264 in the first 45 minutes - to put that into perspective Sergio Aguero has scored 270 total goals in his whole career.
He has hit the net 116 times in the last ten minutes and 35 times in injury time, big goals in crucial moments of the game. On five occasions, Messi has scored four in one game but only once has he hit five in 90 minutes, that famous Champions League demolition of Bayer Leverkusen. In terms of being a big game player - he has hit 29 goals in finals, but only one in extra time.
Messi’s influence at Barcelona has clearly been huge, not just in terms of personal performance but also in terms of trophies and success on the field. He has won a whopping ten La Liga title, six Copa del Reys, seven Supercopas and four European Cups. Before his debut, Barcelona had one Europe’s greatest competition just once and he has played a key part in making them the elite club on the continent.
In fact, only Real Madrid have won as many Champions Leagues as Barcelona since Messi made his debut and it has been this duel that has caught the eye throughout his career. Before Messi (a time period I’m sure in the future will be known as B.M.), Los Blancos were the dominant force in Spain having won 29 league titles. However, in the time it has taken Messi to inspire Barca to ten title wins, Madrid have picked up just four - meaning the gap has closed significantly and the overall total now reads Madrid - 33, Barca - 26.
The 31-year-old has won the treble (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League) twice in his career, and completed the League and Champions League double a whopping four times, the same number of times as he has won the domestic double. Club trophies certainly have not been an issue for Messi and he will go down as one of the most successful athletes of all time.
Messi’s favourite opponents are Sevilla. He has scored a whopping 36 goals in 35 games against them and has also won the most games against them (28) and registered the most assists (18) but has appeared most against Real Madrid - 39 showings to Sevilla’s 35.
Penalties are often thought to be the weakest point of Messi’s game but he has in fact scored 70 out of 92 spot kicks in his career.
Messi has never been sent off for Barcelona and has received only one red card in his entire career. He was harshly dismissed on his Argentina debut just 44 seconds after coming on after catching a Hungary defender with his arm. In terms of yellow cards he most often gets booed against, you guessed it, Real and Atletico Madrid, with 12 cards apiece.
Lionel Messi has scored 40 goals or more for each of the past ten seasons. In terms of individual contribution to the team, his most successful campaign was in 2011/12, where he went on a rampage, scoring 73 goals in 60 games and assisting 29 giving him an average of 1.7 goal contributions per game. His goal and assists number have remained freakishly high ever since but that season was something more than special. Those numbers are simply unbelievable.
Importance to Barcelona
It goes without saying that Messi is vital to Barcelona but it may be surprising just how influential he is on the pitch. Since his debut as a 17-year-old, he has scored 28% of Barcelona’s goals, more than one in every four, and been involved in 39% of them.
Those numbers go even higher when we look solely at the past decade. He has scored one in every three Barcelona goals in the last ten years in all competitions (33%) and been involved in a whopping 46% of them. Almost half of every Barcelona goals has been influenced by Messi and even that is discounting second-assists, dummies or other runs.
He’s played alongside some of the best players in the world such as Neymar and Luis Suarez yet still he is the standout goalscorer and assist provider every single season. He’s performed under this amount of pressure every single season at the very highest level.
Messi has won five Ballon d’Ors to date in his fabulous career. That is more than anyone else in the history of the game but he has also elevated Barcelona to a level they did not think they could reach. Before Messi, they had won four Ballon d’Or awards (Suárez Miramontes, Cruyff, Stoichkov and Rivaldo) since his debut they have won a further six, with Ronaldinho also scooping the prestigious award since 2004. Thanks to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the modern era, Real Madrid and Barcelona are tied on the number of wins at ten, having overtaken the likes of AC Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich along the way.
We do not have much time left to enjoy Lionel Messi at his very peak but there is still time yet for him to add to these incredible numbers. The greatest of all time.