MX23RW : Sunday, December 8 12:43:45| >> :600:486425:486425:

Six of the best: Messi chalks up another landmark

Six of the best: Messi chalks up another landmark
© Reuters
The Barcelona great's glory-laden career continues to go from strength to strength.

Lionel Messi may be approaching the twilight of his remarkable career but the accumulation of records, honours and scintillating performances shows no sign of diminishing.

The Barcelona and Argentina ace regained his crown as the game's best player on Monday night after lifting the prestigious Ballon d'Or award for an unprecedented sixth time.

It is the first time Messi has won the prize since 2015, with Cristiano Ronaldo (twice) and Luka Modric taking the title in-between, and is proof that, at the age of 32, the Rosario-born magician is still setting the bar for rivals old and new.

Messi arrived in Catalonia as a prodigious 13-year-old, a junior sensation with hometown club Newell's Old Boys, after Barcelona director Charly Rexach proffered a contract written on a napkin.

Initially stricken by homesickness and hampered by a growth hormone deficiency, Messi let his football do the talking, running rings around his vaunted team-mates in training at La Masia.

His predecessor as Barca talisman, Ronaldinho, took a shine to the shy teenager and encouraged then boss Frank Rijkaard to promote him to the first team in 2005.

Messi never looked back. Once Barca had swerved a big-money bid from Inter Milan, the 18-year-old forward began to steadily lock down a starting place and was unfortunate to miss the 2006 Champions League final victory over Arsenal with a hamstring injury.

Lionel Messi has won the Champions League four times with Barcelona
Lionel Messi has won the Champions League four times with Barcelona (Nick Potts/PA).

That disappointment behind him, he spearheaded Barca's domestic revival under Pep Guardiola. He had taken the number 10 shirt from the departed Ronaldinho in the summer of 2008 and the season that followed ended with 38 goals in all competitions and a league, cup and European treble.

Now an immovable object in the starting XI, under Guardiola, playing mainly on the right wing, Messi improved his already fantastic goal-scoring record and soon operated without positional constraints as a 'false nine', or free-thinking forward.

Four consecutive Ballon d'Or awards – between 2009 and 2012 – went his way as he carried Barca into the post-Guardiola era, and in 2011-12 he scored an eye-watering 73 times – albeit not enough to stop Real Madrid winning LaLiga.

A succession of injuries and doubts about his long-term future in Barcelona meant performances dipped before the 2014 World Cup, but in Brazil Messi fired Argentina to the final.

Lionel Messi's Argentina were beaten in the 2014 World Cup final by Germany
Lionel Messi's Argentina were beaten in the 2014 World Cup final by Germany (Mike Egerton/PA).

Heartache followed as Germany outclassed the Albiceleste, with whom Messi has scored a national-record 70 goals in 138 appearances but has failed win a major trophy.

Such has been the level of his frustration over a drought of honours on the international stage – his only success being Olympic gold in 2008 – Messi briefly turned his back on his national team in 2016.

That came after a fourth runners-up finish at a major tournament in nine years as Chile won the Copa America final in which Messi missed a penalty in a shootout. He reversed his decision inside two months.

Critics say he has not performed for his nation, yet it was Messi who dragged Argentina to the 2018 World Cup finals, scoring a hat-trick in the final qualifying match with Ecuador to secure an automatic qualification place which had looked a forlorn hope.

However, a last-16 exit in Russia at the hands of eventual winners France brought about fresh agony for the South American superpower, and means Messi's international career – which is ongoing – may forever be tinged with a sense of underachievement.

At domestic level, though, detractors will find no such ammunition.

He recently notched up 700 appearances for Barca, during which time he has scored a phenomenal 614 goals whilst winning 34 trophies, including 10 LaLiga and four Champions League titles, and a host of other records and awards.

Lionel Messi has now won six Ballons d'Or compared to Cristiano Ronaldo's five
Lionel Messi has now won six Ballons d'Or compared to Cristiano Ronaldo's five (Mike Egerton/PA).

It has been a level of sustained success that few athletes can match and has contributed to Messi going toe-to-toe with Ronaldo for the right to be called the best footballer on the planet for more than a decade.

Before Monday night, both superstars had five Ballons d'Or bestowed upon them – two more than any other player in the 54-year history of the award.

Now Messi holds the mark outright, furthering his claim to be considered the greatest of all time as well as adding another chapter to a glory-laden career that, 14 years strong, continues to go from strength to strength.

body check tags ::
Share this article now:
Instagram - Follow Sports Mole
Edinson Cavani in action for PSG on January 19, 2019
Read Next:
Edinson Cavani 'offered to fight Lionel Messi'
>
Sports Mole Logo
Enter your email address to subscribe to Sports Mole's free daily transfer newsletter! Sent twice a day during the transfer window.

Premier League
Championship
Scottish League Cup
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Eredivisie
Primeira Liga
Turkish Super Lig
Belgian Pro League
Greek Superleague
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swiss Super League
Danish Superliga
Segunda Division
Serie B
2.Bundesliga
Argentine Primera Division
Brasileiro
Liga MX Playoffs
Australian A-League
Women's Super League
European Champions Cup
NFL
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool16151040142646
2Leicester CityLeicester1511223592635
3Manchester CityMan City16102444192532
4Chelsea169253124729
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd166642519624
6Tottenham HotspurSpurs166553023723
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves155822117423
8Crystal Palace166461418-422
9Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd154741715219
10Arsenal154742123-219
11Newcastle UnitedNewcastle155461522-719
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton155371822-418
13Burnley165382129-818
14Everton165291928-917
15Bournemouth164481824-616
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham154471725-816
17Aston Villa154382224-215
18Southampton154381733-1615
19Norwich CityNorwich1532101632-1611
20Watford16169930-219

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!