Lionel Messi reminded Spanish football of the goals of Telmo Zarra, the figure of Alfredo Di Stefano to the classics, the world the legend of Pelé and the magazine France Football the Ballon d’Or by Cruyff, Platini and Van Basten. Messi is the top scorer in LaLiga and is the best scorer in the Barça-Madrid team, he scores more goals with the Barcelona shirt than those that Pelé scored in Santos and he has more Ballons d’Or than anyone else. Messi reviewed football history and, how could it be otherwise, rewrote that of Barcelona. He took over almost all the records at the Camp Nou. There was one, however, that he seemed willing to despise: the player with the most games in the history of Barcelona.
After playing his 731st match with Barça, in the win against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the last edition of the Champions League, Messi had decided to leave Barcelona. He was 37 games away from stealing the mark from Xavi Hernández (767). He did not care. I wanted a winning project in Europe, impossible in the 2020-2021 version of the Barça team. The story is known: burofax, public confrontation with Josep Maria Bartomeu and to endure one more season at the Camp Nou. Bad luck for Xavi, this Sunday against Real Sociedad (21.00, Movistar LaLiga), the 10 will add his 768 match at Barça. “Congratulations Leo! Quite an honor that you are the one to equal this record. Congratulations, friend, ”the Al-Sadd coach posted on Instagram after the Rosario tied his mark in the match against Huesca.
“If he did not leave Barça it was clear that he would add many more games and he is still young to continue playing,” added Xavi in statements to Sports world. Messi will surpass Xavi in games played, while he has already equaled him in number of seasons at Barça, 17, a mark they share with Charly Rexach. “There is something that surprises me about Leo: he doesn’t get tired and people don’t get tired of him,” says Rexach. “Leo is 33 years old and he still wants to win and score. How many times did he score the same goal, starting from the right and shooting at the near post? 200 or 300? Neither he gets tired of doing it nor the fans of enjoying it ”, explains the former player and former Barça coach, the architect of Messi’s arrival at Barça. “I have no merit. It was very easy. Even a person who does not know anything about football saw him play and realized that he was the best ”, Rexach completes.
To the record of more games and more seasons, Messi adds that of the player with the most titles in the club, 34, followed by his former teammate Andrés Iniesta (32). “It is different, unattainable and incomparable”, analyzes the manchego to the Rosario; “It is number one because it has everything. Passing, assists, dribbling, goal, team spirit. He knows how to be decisive in almost every game and has been for years. I have never seen a player as decisive and strong as Messi ”. Nor did the current Barcelona coach, Ronald Koeman, get rid of Messi’s goal-scoring drive. The Wembley hero had the mark of the leading direct foul scorer at Barça. The Dutchman collected 25 nets, a figure that the Argentine left in the rearview mirror in 2016. “If I have ever competed with Leo in a free kick game?” Said Koeman; “No, I’m not here to shoot more fouls. In my time I did get performance, as I read now. It cannot be compared. He is left-handed and I am right-handed. We have both scored good free-kick goals and also in important matches. Hopefully he continues to score more ”. Messi already has 46 free-kick targets at Barcelona.
In total, La Pulga has 661 goals for Barcelona, practically tripling his chase in the table: Cesar Rodríguez (230). “At the beginning it was hard for me to score goals. I was wrong or was not lucky. I remember Eto’o telling me: ‘the day you start scoring goals, you’re going to be …’ I had many chances and I didn’t convert. Until one day I uncovered, they began to enter ”, remembers Messi the words of the Cameroonian that signed 131 goals like Barcelona.
There is practically no record that resists the 10. He lacks, of course, to be crowned the maximum winner of the Champions League at Barça. He has four, a brand that he shares with Xavi and Iniesta. Eliminated by PSG in the second round of this edition, Messi will have to renew his contract with Barcelona (it ends in June) if he wants to raise one more Orejona as a Barça player. His colleagues ask him to stay, Joan Laporta holds out his hand. “You can’t go, Leo. If we had a full field, you wouldn’t leave for sure. Even in that the pandemic makes us the heck. What you do will be fine. But we will try to convince you. Sorry to refer to this act, but you know how fond I have for you ”, the new president released. Messi smiled. In the 80s, Argentine soccer fans paid tribute to their players after a title to the chant of “don’t go away, champion, I want to see you again.” A song that Roberto Fontanarrosa picked up to give a name to one of his latest books. A song that today seems the cry of all Barcelona fans.