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24 stats to back up Lionel Messi being called the 'greatest player in football history'

The Barcelona superstar could break the Champions League record by scoring against APOEL Nicosia tonight.

Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal against Sevilla surpassing Telmo Zarra's record of 251 goals in the Spanish league.
Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal against Sevilla surpassing Telmo Zarra's record of 251 goals in the Spanish league.

Updated at 16.52

ON SATURDAY, LIONEL Messi scored a hat-trick for Barcelona (his 27th in total for the club) against Sevilla to become the top goalscorer in La Liga history.

Following this momentous occasion, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu called Messi the “greatest player in football history”.

Though Bartomeu may be somewhat biased in his views, he is far from the only person to label the Argentinian superstar as the best there ever was. With that in mind, here are 24 stats to support the assertion.

  • 71 — Messi (along with Raul) is the top goalscorer in Champions League history. He could break the record by scoring against APOEL Nicosia tonight, while fellow superstar Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid is just one behind him on 70. Messi also has the most Champions League goals with a single club.
  • 1 — He is the only player to be the leading scorer and leader in assists over a season (2011/12).
  • 368 — He has scored more goals than any other player in Barcelona history.
  • 91 — He has the most goals in a calendar year.
  • 4 — He has the joint most European Cup top scorer awards (with Gerd Muller). He is also the only player who has been the Champions League top scorer for four consecutive seasons (2008/09-2011/12).
  • 73 – He is the leading scorer over a season of official games.
  • 4 — He is the only player to win the Ballon d’Or four times.
  • 21 — He has the most consecutive goals in La Liga games.
  • 8 — He has the most La Liga hat-tricks in a season.
  • 1 – He is the only player to win the Ballon d’Or, FIFA World Player, Pichichi trophy and Golden Boot in the same season (2009/10).

Source: iNJRHD/YouTube

  • 24 – He is the youngest player ever to pass the 50-goal mark in the Champions League.
  • 5 — He has the joint most goals in a single European game (along with Shakhtar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano).
  • 21 — He has the most goals in Clasicos. He has also scored more Clasico goals at the Bernabeu (12) than at the Camp Nou (9).
  • 12 – He also has the most assists in El Clásico history.
  • 2 — He is the first player to score two hat-tricks in El Clásico history.
  • 18 — His goals in the 2014/15 season from 23 appearances.
  • 35 – He is the leading La Liga scorer over a season in home games (2011/12).
  • 4 — He has the joint most goals at the Club World Cup (with Denilson).
  • 253 — He has scored the most La Liga goals (from 289 games).
  • 1 — He was the first player to score a hat-trick against a team managed by Carlo Ancelotti.
  • 50 – He is the leading scorer in a European league season (from 37 appearances) since the start of the Golden Boot and also the leading scorer in a La Liga season (2011/12).
  • 14 — He became all-time leading scorer in a single Champions League season with 14 goals (2011/12) and jointly held the record with Milan’s Jose Altafina (1962/63) when the European Cup was taken into consideration. However, Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed him last season with 17.
  • 25 — He is the youngest player to reach 200 La Liga goals.
  • 4 — He is only player to score four hat-tricks in the Champions League.

h/t @MessiStatsLionel Messi Fan Club, BBC SportBleacher ReportFC Barcelona,baracblaugranes.com.

A version of this piece was originally published on 24 March.

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Paul Fennessy

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