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Messi

Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini (born June 4, 1987), is an Argentine Professional footballer playing for Spanish club FC Barcelona, as well as the Argentinian National Football Team. He primarily plays in the centre forward position, although he can also play in the attacking midfield position. He is widely regarded as the best player in the world, and considered by some to be the greatest of all time.

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Early Life Edit

Messi was born in Rosario, Argentina on June 4, 1987. At the age of five, Messi started playing football for Grandoli, a local club coached by his father. In 1995, Messi switched to Newell's Old Boys who were based in his home city Rosario. He became part of a local youth powerhouse that lost only one match in the next four years and became locally known as "The Machine of '87". At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. Nearby club River Plate showed interest in Messi, but were not willing to pay for his treatment costs, £575 per month ($900). Carles Rexach, the sporting director of FC Barcelona, was made aware of young Lionel's extraordinary talent , and Messi and his father were able to arrange a trial with the team. Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered Messi a contract written on a paper napkin. Barcelona offered to pay Messi's medical bills on the condition that he moved to Spain. Messi and his father moved to Barcelona, where Messi enrolled in the club's youth academy.

FC Barcelona Edit

2000-2004 Early years at Barcelona Edit

Lionel played in FC Barcelona's junior Infantil B and Cadete B & A teams from 2000 to 2003, scoring 37 goals in 30 matches in Cadete A. He was nearly released from the club in 2003 because of financial constraints, but his youth coaches convinced management to keep him (Cesc Fàbregas was released during this period). Season 2003–04 saw him on a record five different teams: He started one match in Juvenil B (one goal) and got promoted to Juvenil A (14 matches, 21 goals). Later, he debuted for the FC Barcelona C team on 29 November 2003, and for FC Barcelona B on 6 March 2004. He played for both teams during the season (10 matches, five goals and five matches, zero goals, respectively). Even before these two debuts, Messi made his official debut for the first-team on 16 October 2004, in a friendly match against Porto. Less than a year after his start, Frank Rijkaard gave him his league debut against Espanyol on 16 October 2004 (at 17 years and 114 days), becoming the third-youngest player ever to play for Barcelona and youngest player to play in La Liga, which would be broken by Bojan Krkić in September 2007. When he scored his first senior goal for the club against Albacete Balompié on 1 May 2005, Messi was 17 years, ten months and seven days old, becoming the youngest to ever score in a La Liga game for Barcelona until the record was broken by Bojan Krkić in 2007, scoring from a Messi assist. Messi said about his ex-coach Rijkaard: "I'll never forget the fact that he launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only 16 or 17." During the season, Messi played also for Barcelona B, scoring six goals in 17 matches.

2005-06 Season Edit

Messi obtained Spanish citizenship on 26 September 2005, and was finally able to make his debut in the season's Spanish First Division. Messi's first home outing in the Champions League came on 27 September against Italian club Udinese. Fans at Barcelona's stadium, the Camp Nou, gave Messi a standing ovation upon his substitution, as his composure on the ball and passing combinations with Ronaldinho had paid dividends for Barcelona. Messi scored six goals in 17 league appearances, and scored one Champions League goal in six. His season ended prematurely on 7 March 2006, however, when he suffered a muscle tear in his right thigh during the second leg of the second round of that year's UEFA Champions League against Chelsea. Barcelona ended the season as champions of Spain and Europe.

2006-07 Season Edit

In the 2006–07 season, Messi established himself as a regular first team player, scoring 14 times in 26 matches.[40] On 12 November, in the game against Real Zaragoza, Messi suffered a broken metatarsal, ruling him out for three months. On 10 March, El Clásico saw Messi in top form, netting a hat-trick to earn 10-man Barcelona a 3–3 draw, equalising three times, with the final equaliser coming in injury time. In doing so he became the first player since Iván Zamorano to score a hat-trick in El Clásico. Messi is also the youngest player ever to have scored in this fixture. Towards the end of the season scoring a lot more often; 11 of his 14 league goals for the season came from the last 13 games. Regularly compared to Maradona, Messi proved the comparison was not all hype by nearly replicating the former player's most famous goals in the space of the single season. On 18 April 2007, he scored two goals during a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe CF, one of which was very similar to Maradona's famous goal against England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, known as the Goal of the Century. He ran about the same distance, 62 metres (203 ft), beat the same number of players (six, including the goalkeeper), scored from a very similar position, and ran towards the corner flag just as Maradona did in Mexico 21 years before. In a press conference after the game, Messi's team-mate Deco said: "It was the best goal I have ever seen in my life." Against Espanyol Messi also scored a goal which was remarkably similar to Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal against England in the World Cup quarter-finals. Messi launched himself at the ball and connected with his hand to guide the ball past the goalkeeper. Despite protests by Espanyol players and replays showing it was clear handball, the goal stood. During his time at FC Barcelona, manager Frank Rijkaard decided to move Messi from the left flank onto the right wing, initially against the player's wishes, allowing him to cut into the centre of the pitch and shoot or cross with his left foot.

2007-08 Season Edit

Messi was nominated for a FIFPro World XI Player Award under the category of Forward. A poll conducted in the online edition of the Spanish newspaper Marca had him as the best player in the world with 77 percent of the vote.[53] Columnists from Barcelona-based newspapers El Mundo Deportivo and Sportstated that the Ballon d'Or should be given to Messi, a view supported by Franz Beckenbauer. Football personalities such as Francesco Totti have declared that they consider Messi to be one of the current best footballers in the world. Messi finished third in the 2007 Ballon d'Or, behind Kaká and Cristiano Ronaldo, and finished second in the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year award, once again behind Kaká. He also came in third in the IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award, once again behind Kaká and Andrea Pirlo. On 27 February, Messi played in his 100th official match for Barcelona against Valencia CF but only a few days later he was sidelined for six weeks following an injury on 4 March when he suffered a muscle tear in his left thigh during a Champions League match against Celtic FC. It was the fourth time in three seasons that Messi suffered this type of injury. Messi scored 6 goals and provided 1 assist during the Champions League that season, as Barcelona were knocked out in the semi-finals, to the eventual winners Manchester United. When the season was over Messi had managed to score 16 goals and assisted 13 times in all competitions.

2008-09 Season Edit

Upon Ronaldinho's departure from the club, Messi inherited his number 10 jersey. During this season he placed second in the 2008 FIFA World Player of the Year awards with 678 points and third in the 2008 IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award for the second consecutive year. Messi scored his first hat-trick of 2009 in a Copa del Rey tie against Atlético Madrid which Barcelona won 3–1. Messi scored another important double on 1 February 2009, coming on as a second half substitute to help Barcelona defeat Racing Santander 1–2 after being 1–0 down. The second of the two strikes was Barcelona's 5000th league goal. On 8 April 2009, he scored twice against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, setting a personal record of eight goals in the competition. As Barcelona's season was drawing to a close, Messi scored twice (his 35th and 36th goals in all competitions) to cap a 6–2 win over Real Madrid at theSantiago Bernabéu in what was Real's heaviest defeat since 1930. He won his first Copa del Rey on 13 May, scoring one goal and assisting another two, in a 4–1 victory over Athletic Bilbao. He helped his team win the double by winning La Liga. On 27 May he helped Barcelona win the Champions League by scoring a second goal in the 70th minute giving Barcelona a two goal lead; he also became the top scorer in the Champions League, the youngest in the tournament's history, with nine goals. Messi also won the UEFA Club Forward of the Year and the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, rounding off a spectacular year in Europe. Barcelona had won the Copa del Rey, La Liga and Champions League in one season; the first time a Spanish club had ever won the treble. The all-star attacking trio of Messi (38 goals), Samuel Eto'o (36 goals) and Thierry Henry (26 goals) scored exactly 100 goals between them in the club's historic treble year.

2009-10 Season Edit

After winning the 2009 UEFA Super Cup, Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola asserted that Messi was probably the best player he had ever seen. This would also be the season in which Guardiola would first move Messi from the position of right winger into his now iconic false-9 role in the centre of the front line at Barcelona. On 18 September, Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona, running until 2016 and with a buy-out clause of €250 million included, making Messi, then along with Zlatan Ibrahimović, the highest paid players in La Liga, with earnings of around €9.5 million yearly. Messi was named winner of the 2009 Ballon d'Or on 1 December 2009, beating runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo by largest ever margin of 473 to 233. He also placed second in the 2009 IFFHS World's Best Playmaker Award behind team mate Xavi. On 19 December, Messi scored the winner in the final of the 2009 Club World Cup against Estudiantes in Abu Dhabi, giving the club their sixth title of the year. Two days later, he was given the FIFA World Player of the Year award, beating Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, Kaká and Andrés Iniesta. This was the first time he had won the award, and he became the first Argentinian to ever receive this honour. On 10 January 2010, Messi scored his first hat-trick in 2010 and his first hat-trick of the season against CD Tenerife in the 0–5 victory, and on 17 January he scored his 100th goal for the club in the 4–0 victory over Sevilla FC. Messi scored a hat-trick against Valencia in a 3–0 home win, and finally he scored another hat-trick against Real Zaragoza in a 4–2 away win, becoming the first Barcelona player to score back-to-back hat-tricks in La Liga. He played his 200th official match for Barcelona against Osasuna on 24 March 2010. On 6 April 2010, for the first time in Messi's career he scored four goals in a single match, netting the lot in a 4–1 home win over Arsenal in the Champions League quarter-final second leg. This also saw him overtake Rivaldo as Barcelona's all time greatest scorer in the competition. In the final league match of the season against Valladolid, he scored two goals in the second half to tie Ronaldo's club record of 34 goals in a single league season, set in 1996–97, and to finish four goals behind the all-time record held by Telmo Zarra. He was named La Liga player of the year for the second year in a row on 3 June 2010. He finished the season with 47 goals in all competitions, tying Ronaldo's record from the 1996–97 season, and he provided 11 assists.

2010-11 Season Edit

On 21 August 2010, Messi scored a hat-trick in his first start of the season in a 4–0 victory over Sevilla FC in the Supercopa de España, helping Barcelona secure their first trophy of the season after a 1–3 first leg loss. On 19 September 2010, Messi suffered an ankle injury due to an ill-advised tackle by Atlético Madrid defender Tomáš Ujfaluši in the 92nd minute of their Round 3 match at the Vicente Calderón Stadium. At first sight it was feared that Messi suffered a broken ankle that could have kept the star player away from the pitch for a minimum of six months, but MRI performed the next day in Barcelona showed he suffered a sprain in the internal and external ligaments of his right ankle. Team-mate David Villa said "the tackle on Messi was brutal" after watching the video of the play and also added that he believed the Atlético defender "didn't go into the tackle to hurt". The incident caused widespread media attention and brought up the debate of equality in protecting all players in the game. Against Almería, Messi scored his second hat-trick of the season in an impressive 8–0 away win, the second of which was his 100th La Liga goal. Messi won the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or, beating his Barcelona teammates Xavi and Iniesta. Messi had been nominated for the awards for the fourth consecutive year. On 5 February, Barcelona broke the record for most consecutive league wins with 16 victories after they defeated Atlético Madrid 3–0 at the Camp Nou. Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to ensure the victory for his side and after the match he stated, "it's an honor to be able to pass a record set by a great like Di Stéfano" and "if the record has been around for so long is because it's very complicated to achieve and we have reached it by defeating a very difficult team who's going through a bad situation, which makes it even more difficult." After failing to score for a month he scored a brace against UD Almería; the second goal was his 47th of the season, equalling his club record return of the previous season. He surpassed his record on 12 April 2011 by scoring the winner against Shakhtar Donetsk in a UEFA Champions League game, which put him in the record book as all time top scorer in a single season for Barcelona. He scored his eighth goal on El Clásico on a 1–1 tie at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. On 23 April, Messi scored his 50th goal of the season against CA Osasuna in a 2–0 home victory which he came on as a substitute in the 60th minute. He finished the season by winning La Liga and scoring 31 goals as he finished runner-up in the Pichichi trophy to Cristiano Ronaldo, who had managed to score 40. Messi finished the league season as the top assist provider with 18 assists. On 20 April, Barcelona were defeated by arch-rivals Real Madrid in the 2011 Copa del Rey Final. Messi set up a goal for Pedro, which was however ruled offside. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the only goal of the match in extra time. Messi was however the joint top-scorer of the tournament along with Cristiano Ronaldo, with 7 goals. In the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals, he gave a memorable performance, scoring twice against Real Madrid in a 2–0 win, the second goal (a dribble past several players) being acclaimed as one of the best ever at that stage of the competition. At the Champions League Final at Wembley, Messi scored the eventual game-clinching goal to give Barcelona their third title in six years and fourth overall. This was also Messi's 12th goal in the Champions League that season, which allowed him to tie Ruud Van Nistelrooy's record of 12 goals in a single European Cup season, after it was re-established as the UEFA Champions League, in 1992. The overall record of goals scored in a single European Cup Season, is José Altafini's record of 14 goals, which Messi did however equal in the following season. Messi finished the 2010–11 season with 53 goals and 24 assists in all competitions combined.

2011-12 Season Edit

Messi started the season by lifting the Spanish Supercup with Barcelona, scoring three goals and providing two assists in a 5–4 aggregate win against Real Madrid. His vital interventions continued in the next official match played against Porto when he scored again following a weak back pass from Fredy Guarín before setting up Cesc Fàbregas to give Barcelona a 2–0 victory and the UEFA Super Cup, then the only official competition that remained for him to score in. In August, Messi became the second highest goalscorer surpassing László Kubala on 194 goals, being behind only to César Rodríguez on 232 goals in all official competitions. On 28 September, Messi scored his first two Champions League goals of the season against BATE Borisov, becoming Barcelona's second highest goalscorer in its history, tying László Kubala, at 194 goals in all official competitions. He surpassed that record when he scored two goals against Racing Santander. He became second in Barcelona's La Liga goalscorers list with 132 goals, one more than Kubala. He scored his 200th Barcelona goal and two more as part of a hat-trick in his next game against Viktoria Plzeň in the Champions League. Messi scored twice in the Club World Cup Final against Santos and was recognised as the man of the match and also awarded the Golden Ball for his performance during the tournament. Messi won the 2011 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, beating his Barcelona team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi won the 2011 FIFA Ballon d'Or, again beating his team-mate Xavi and Cristiano Ronaldo. By winning the FIFA Ballon d'Or again, Messi become the fourth player to win three Ballons d'Or, after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten and the second player to win three consecutive Ballons d'Or, after Michel Platini. Messi also won the IFFHS World's Top Goal Scorer award, with 19 goals in 2011. On 19 February 2012, Messi, on his 200th La Liga appearance, scored four goals against Valencia CF in a 5–1 win. On 7 March, Messi became the first player to score five goals in an UEFA Champions League match since the tournament's re-establishment in 1992, helping the defending champions Barcelona win 7–1 against Bayer Leverkusen. On 20 March, Messi scored three goals against Granada, making him FC Barcelona's leading goalscorer in official competitions, surpassing club legend César Rodríguez, who had previously held the record with 232. On 3 April, Messi scored two goals from penalty kicks against Milan in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final, allowing him to surpass his personal record, joint with Ruud van Nistelrooy, of 12 goals in a single UEFA Champions League season. These goals allowed him to tie José Altafini's record of 14 goals in a single European Cup season in the 1962–63 season, before the tournament's re-establishment as the UEFA Champions League in 1992. Messi was unable to score in the semi-finals, although he provided an assist in the second leg, as Barcelona were knocked out to eventual winners Chelsea. During the second leg match, Messi missed an important penalty, hitting the crossbar. The goal would have put Barcelona ahead on aggregate. On 11 April, Messi scored his 61st goal of the season against Getafe CF, and made two assists. On 2 May, Messi scored a hat-trick against Málaga CF surpassing Gerd Müller's record (67 goals in 1972–73) with 68 goals, and thus becoming the best goalscorer in history in one season in Europe. It was the 21st multi-goal game of the season for Messi and his seventh La Liga hat-trick. He then scored four goals on 5 May against RCD Espanyol to take his tally to an unprecedented 72 goals, in the process becoming only the second player to pass 70 goals in a first division season since Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel in the American Soccer League in 1924–25. On 25 May, he scored again in the 2012 Copa del Rey Final, helping Barcelona win their 26th Spanish Cup title, and increasing his seasonal goalscoring record to an unmatched 73 goals in all competitions. This was also Guardiola's last match as Barcelona's manager, and the Cup win marked Messi's second Copa del Rey title, after losing the final the year before, as well as his 14th Barcelona trophy during Guardiola's four seasons at the club. Although Barcelona failed to win their fourth consecutive Liga title under Guardiola, finishing runners-up to arch-rivals Real Madrid, Messi finished the 2011–12 season as the top goalscorer in La Liga for a second time, with a La Liga record of 50 goals. He was the second best assist provider in La Liga that season with 16 assists, after Mesut Özil, who managed 17. He also ended the season as the UEFA Champions' League Top Scorer for a fourth consecutive time, with 14 goals. He was one of the top assist providers of the tournament with 5 assists and finished the season with 73 goals and 29 assists in all club competitions, with more goals and assists than any other player.

2012-13 Season Edit

During Barcelona's first game of the season against Real Sociedad, Messi continued his goalscoring run with a brace in a 5–1 win at the Camp Nou. Messi added another goal from a penalty in a 3–2 win against rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of the 2012 Supercopa de España in Barcelona on 23 August. He added another brace against Osasuna as Barcelona came from behind away from home to beat them 2–1. Messi added another goal from a free kick in the second leg of the Supercopa de España, as Barcelona, down to ten men, were defeated by Real Madrid on away goals. This marked his 15th goal in the El Clásico Real Madrid-Barcelona derby, which made him Barcelona's top scorer in Clasico matches, putting him tied with Raúl, behind only Alfredo Di Stefano, with 18 goals. Messi placed second along with Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2012 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, with 17 votes each. The award was won by Messi's Barcelona team mate Andrés Iniesta. In his third league appearance on 2 September against Valencia, Messi assisted the only goal of the match, by team mate Adriano, from a short corner. Messi scored two more goals in a win against Getafe on 15 September, and added another brace in his first Champions League match of the season against Spartak Moscow on 20 September, ending in a 3–2 win to Barcelona, also marking his tenth goal of the season. On 11 November, Messi scored twice at Mallorca, his 75th and 76th goals in 2012, surpassing Pelé's milestone of 75 goals (1958) in a calendar year, and moved within nine of German legend Gerd Müller's all-time Guinness World Records title. His 77th and 78th goals came against Real Zaragoza at Camp Nou which moved Messi seven goals away from the record. On 20 November, Messi scored twice at Spartak Moscow, his 79th and 80th goals of 2012 and moved to within five goals of the record.Messi continued his scoring run against Levante UD on 25 November with his 81st and 82nd goals of the year which moved him within three goals of Müller. On 1 December, Messi scored twice against Athletic Bilbao, his 83rd and 84th goals of the year, meaning he pulled to within one goal of Müller's record set in 1972. The two goals also meant Messi equaled the record for Barcelona's all time leading goalscoring record in La Liga, which was held by César Rodríguez with 190 goals. On 9 December, Messi scored twice against Real Betis, his 85th and 86th goals in 2012, surpassing Müller's milestone of 85 goals scored in a calendar year in 1972 with Bayern Munich and the German national team, as well as surpassing Rodríguez's record for most league goals for Barcelona. Messi sent Müller a No.10 Barcelona shirt, signed "with respect and admiration", after breaking his record. On 12 December, Messi increased his record to 88, after scoring twice against Córdoba CF in the first leg of a Copa del Rey game. On 16 December, Messi scored twice in a 4–1 Barcelona victory against Atlético Madrid, increasing his record to 90 goals. The tally found its end at 91 goals in a year after Messi scored once against Real Valladolid. FIFA, however, refuses to acknowledge the record for the most goals in a calendar year, citing verifiability issues. On 18 December 2012, it was announced that Barcelona would renew the contract of Messi, extending it until 30 June 2018. The contract was signed 7 February 2013. On 7 January 2013 odds-on favourite Messi won the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or, again beating Cristiano Ronaldo into second place with team-mate Andrés Iniesta third. In doing this, Messi became the only player in history to win the Ballon d'Or four times. Messi described receiving the accolade as "really quite unbelievable" and "too great for words". The achievement fuelled media comparison of Messi with former greats of the sport such as Diego Maradona and Pelé. On 27 January 2013, Messi scored 4 goals in a 5–1 win against Osasuna, including his 200th goal in La Liga, becoming the eighth and youngest player to do so. This brought his La Liga tally for the season up to 33, and his goalscoring total to 44 goals in all competitions. On 16 February 2013, Messi scored his 300th Barcelona goal the La Liga match against Granada CF, later scoring again in the match to bring his tally to 301 goals in 365 official matches. On 2 March 2013, Messi scored a goal against Real Madrid in a match that Barcelona lost 2–1. With that goal, Lionel Messi equalled Alfredo Di Stefano's Clasico goals record of 18. On 9 March 2013, Messi scored after coming on as a substitute against Deportivo de La Coruña, scoring in his 17th consecutive league match and breaking the all-time world record. Messi's record goalscoring run of 33 goals in 21 games ended against Atletico Madrid. On 12 March, Messi scored two goals, and helped create the fourth, to help Barcelona defeat Milan (4–0) in the second leg of their Champions League game and reach the quarter-finals. Messi's opening goal against Milan once again drew further comparisons between himself and Diego Maradona, due to the similarity between Messi's opening goal of the match and Maradona's famous goal against Greece in the 1994 World Cup. On 17 March 2013, in a match against Rayo Vallecano, Messi wore the captain's armband for the first time in an official match for Barcelona, taking over after Andrés Iniesta was substituted. On 30 March, Messi scored for the 19th consecutive La Liga game, netting Barcelona's second goal at Celta de Vigo and thus becoming the first footballer in La Liga's history to score in consecutive matches against every team. On 2 April 2013, after scoring a goal in a match against Paris Saint-Germain, Messi suffered from a hamstring problem in his left leg and was substituted at half time. Since then his first team appearances have been irregular. On 13 May 2013, Messi was unable to finish the match against Atletico Madrid due to recurrence of the hamstring injury in his left leg, he was forced to leave the field midway through the second half. It was later announced that he could miss the rest of the season due to the injury. In the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona were down a goal, and Messi was on the bench due to a recurring injury problem. In the second half, Messi came off the bench and combined with David Villa to help create Pedro's game tying goal for Barcelona, which allowed them to progress to the semi-finals. Barcelona were eliminated in the semi-finals by the eventual winners of the competition, Bayern Munich. Barcelona were also eliminated in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, by arch-rivals Real Madrid. Barcelona, however, managed to regain the La Liga title from Real Madrid, equalling their record 100 point campaign, which had been accomplished during the previous season. Messi once again finished as La Liga's top scorer for the second consecutive year, with 46 goals, also producing 12 assists in the competition. Messi scored 60 goals and provided 16 assists in all competitions that season.

2013-14 Season Edit

Messi was nominated for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Franck Ribéry, for a third consecutive year. Ribéry won the award with 36 votes. Messi finished in second place with 14 votes, while Ronaldo finished in third-place with 3 votes. On 18 August 2013, Messi opened the 2013–14 La Liga Season with two goals and an assist against Levante UD, as Barcelona went on to win the match 7–0. On 28 August, Barcelona claimed their 11th Supercopa de España title over Atlético Madrid on away goals. On 1 September, Messi scored his 23rd career hat-trick in a 3–2 win against Valencia CF. With these goals he became the player to score 100 away goals and become highest scorer in away fixtures in the league's history. These goals made him the sixth-highest goalscorer in the history of La Liga, surpassing Quini's tally of 219. On 18 September 2013, Messi scored his 24th career hat-trick in Barcelona's first Champions League win of the season, at home against Ajax, which ended 4–0. The goals made him the second-highest goalscorer of all time in the Champions League, with 62 goals, only behind Raúl, and the fourth-highest goalscorer of all time in European Competitions, with 63. With this hat trick Messi became the first player to score four hat tricks in the Champions League. On 10 November, Messi suffered an injury in a 4–1 away win against Real Betis, which would keep him sidelined until January 2014. This was his third injury of the season. On 8 January 2014, Messi returned from injury to score twice for Barça in a 4–0 Copa del Rey win against Getafe. On 13 January, he placed second in the 2013 FIFA Ballon d'Or, behind Cristiano Ronaldo. On 15 February, Messi scored twice against Rayo Vallecano in a 6–0 win to overtake fellow Argentine Alfredo di Stéfano and draw level with Raúl as the third-highest goalscorer in La Liga history with 228 goals. On 16 March 2014, Messi scored a hat-trick in a 7–0 defeat of Osasuna to overtake Paulino Alcántara as Barça's top goalscorer in all competitions, including friendlies. On 23 March, he scored a hat-trick in a 4–3 win against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu to become the outright all-time top goalscorer in El Clásico fixtures, ahead of Di Stefano. These goals also enabled him to become the second highest goalscorer in La Liga, overtaking Hugo Sánchez. Messi finished his club season with only one trophy, the Spanish Super Cup, as Barcelona finished as runners-up in La Liga, behind Atletico Madrid, who had also eliminated them in the quarter-finals of the Champions League that season. Barcelona were also defeated in the Copa del Rey final by rivals Real Madrid, although Messi was the top scorer in the competition. Messi concluded the season with 41 goals and 15 assists in all competitions, but his 28 league goals in La Liga were not enough for him to defend the Pichichi trophy, which went to Cristiano Ronaldo, who managed 31 goals. On 16 May 2014, Messi agreed a new contract with the Catalan club.

2014-15 Season Edit

Messi opened the 2014-15 La Liga season for Barcelona by scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Elche CF. In the following match against Villareal CF, he set up Sandro's match-winning goal, although he suffered an injury to an abductor muscle in his right hip. On 27 September, Messi scored his 400th professional career goal, aged just 27, in a 6–0 home win over Granada CF; he later added a second, and also provided two assists during the match. In a post-match news conference he was lauded by his coach Luis Enrique, who stated: "It's like Messi was touched by a magic wand." On 18 October, Messi scored his 250th La Liga goal in a 3-0 home win over Eibar, also assisting another goal. This goal took him to one strike from equalling Telmo Zarra's all-time record of 251 La Liga goals. Messi had previously celebrated the 10th anniversary of his club debut that week, on 16 October. On 5 November, he scored both goals in Barcelona's 2-0 victory over Ajax, enabling his team to advance to the knock-out stage of theChampions League with two group games remaining. These goals increased Messi's tally to 71 goals in the competition, which allowed him to equal Raúl's UEFA Champions League goal-scoring record.

Argentinian National Team Edit

2006 FIFA World CupEdit

An injury that kept Messi from playing for two months at the end of the 2005–06 season jeopardised his presence in the 2006 World Cup. Nevertheless, Messi was selected in the Argentina squad for the tournament on 15 May 2006. He also played in the final match before the World Cup against the Argentine U-20 team for 15 minutes and a friendly match against Angola from the 64th minute. He witnessed Argentina's opening match victory against Ivory Coast from the substitutes' bench. In the next match against Serbia and Montenegro, Messi became the youngest player to represent Argentina at a World Cup when he came on as a substitute for Maxi Rodríguez in the 74th minute. He assisted Hernán Crespo's goal within minutes of entering the game and also scored the final goal in the 6–0 victory, making him the youngest scorer in the tournament and the sixth youngest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup. Messi started in Argentina's following 0–0 draw against the Netherlands. In the following game against Mexico, Messi came on as a substitute in the 84th minute, with the score tied at 1–1. He appeared to score a goal, but it was ruled offside with Argentina needing a late goal in extra time to proceed. José Pekerman left Messi on the bench during the quarter-final match against Germany, which they lost 4–2 on a penalty shootout.

2007 Copa América Edit

Messi played his first game in the 2007 Copa América on 29 June 2007, when Argentina defeated United States 4–1 in the first game. In this game, he showed his capabilities as a playmaker. He set up a goal for fellow striker Hernán Crespo and had numerous shots on target. Carlos Tevez came on as a substitute for Messi in the 79th minute and scored minutes later. His second game was against Colombia, in which he won a penalty that Crespo converted to tie the game at 1–1. He also played a part in Argentina's second goal as he was fouled outside the box, which allowed Juan Roman Riquelme to score from a free kick, and increase Argentina's lead to 3–1. The final score of the game was 4–2 in Argentina's favor and guaranteed them a spot in the tournament's quarter-finals. In the third game, against Paraguay the coach rested Messi having already qualified for the quarter-finals. He came off the bench in place of Esteban Cambiasso in the 64th minute, with the score at 0–0. In the 79th minute, he assisted a goal for Javier Mascherano. In the quarter-finals, as Argentina faced Peru, Messi scored the second goal of the game, from a Riquelme pass in a 4–0 win. During the semi-final match against Mexico, Messi scored a lob over Oswaldo Sánchez to see Argentina through to the final with a 3–0 win. Argentina went on to lose 3–0 to Brazil in the final. Messi was elected young player of the tournament.

2010 FIFA World Cup Edit

In the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Messi wore the number 10 shirt for the first time in a major tournament. He played the entire game on Argentina's opening match of the tournament, the 1–0 victory against Nigeria. He had several opportunities to score but was repeatedly denied by Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who was named man of the match by FIFA. Messi started in Argentina's following 4–1 win against Korea Republic; he played in more of an attacking midfielder and playmaking role under Maradona, and participated in all of the goals of his team, helping Gonzalo Higuaínscore a hat-trick. In the third group match, Messi was named captain for Argentina in a 2–0 win over Greece. He was again the centrepoint of Argentina's play, playing an important role in both of his team's goals, and was voted man of the match. At the Round of 16 he assisted a controversial goal to Carlos Tevez for the first goal in a 3–1 win against Mexico. The World Cup ended for Argentina with a 4–0 loss against Germany in the quarter-finals. Messi was nominated in ten player shortlist for Golden Ball award by FIFA Technical Study Group. The group identified Messi with the following words: "Outstanding in his pace and creativity for his team, dribbling, shooting, passing – spectacular and efficient".

2011 Copa América Edit

On 17 November 2010, Messi scored a last-minute goal against South American rivals Brazil after an individual effort to help his team to a 1–0 win in the friendly match, which was held in Doha. This was the first time that he had scored against Brazil at senior level. Messi scored another last-minute goal on 9 February 2011 against Portugal from a penalty kick which gave his side a 2–1 victory in the friendly match, which was held in Geneva,Switzerland. He had also previously assisted the first goal. Messi took part in the 2011 Copa América in Argentina, where he failed to score a goal but made three assists, finishing as the joint top assist provider of the tournament. He was selected as man of the match in the group matches against Bolivia (1–1) and Costa Rica (3–0). Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals in a penalty shoot-out against the eventual winners of the Copa América, Uruguay (1–1 a.e.t.), with Messi scoring as the first penalty taker. Messi had also previously assisted Higuaín's equaliser in the 17th minute.

2014 FIFA World Cup Edit

Messi captained Argentina in their first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, leading them to a 2–1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on 15 June. Argentina's opening goal came after three minutes when Messi's cross into the box from a free kick was met by Argentina defender Marcos Rojo whose header was deflected into the net by Sead Kolašinac. In the 65th minute, Messi scored Argentina's second, going on a trademark dribbling run past three players, after a one-two exchange with Higuaín, before scoring from the edge of the penalty area via a slight deflection off Mensur Mujdža. It was his first World Cup goal since scoring against Serbia and Montenegro on his World Cup debut in a 6–0 win in the 2006 tournament. In the team's second game, Messi scored a stoppage time winner against Iran with a strike from 25 yards out which curled into the left corner of the goal. This was Messi's 40th international goal, and the 1–0 win ensured Argentina qualified for the knockout stage. In the team's third group match on 25 June, Messi took his tally in the tournament to four goals, scoring twice in a 3–2 win against Nigeria, his second a free kick, as Argentina finished first in their group. Messi was elected man of the match in all three of Argentina's group games. In Argentina's round of 16 match against Switzerland, Messi assisted Ángel Di María's match winning goal in the 118th minute, giving Argentina a 1–0 win after extra time. After receiving the ball from Rodrigo Palacio, Messi began a dribbling run, taking it past Fabian Schär, and laying the ball off for Di María to score. Messi was once again elected man of the match. In the quarter-final match against Belgium, Messi started the play which led to Higuaín's match winning goal, sending Argentina to the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Argentina eliminated theNetherlands, 4–2 on penalties in the semi-final, after a 0–0 draw following extra time, allowing them to progress to the World Cup Final for the first time since Maradona had led them there in 1990. Messi was heavily marked by the Dutch and didn't score, but he netted Argentina's first penalty in the shootout. On 11 July, Messi was named on the 10-man shortlist by the FIFA technical committee for FIFA's Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player. The World Cup final match on 13 July, in a repeat of the 1990 final, was billed as the world's best player [Messi] versus the world's best team [Germany].In the 29th minute, Messi had started a play which led to a goal by Higuaín, which was correctly ruled offside. Messi missed several opportunities to open the scoring throughout the match, in particular during his breakaway at the 47th minute, when his effort was put just wide of the far post. The game remained scoreless until German substitute Mario Götze scored in the 113th minute, then in the last minutes of extra time Messi's free kick sailed over the net, and Germany won the game 1-0 to claim the World Cup. Messi finished as the joint-third-highest goalscorer of the tournament, with four goals and an assist, though Neymar received the Bronze Boot due to the tie-breaking criteria of playing fewer minutes than Messi. Messi's goals against Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina were nominated for the goal of the tournament award, and were voted the ninth and eighth best goals of the tournament, respectively. Messi's four Man of the Match awards were the most of any player in the tournament. At the conclusion of the World Cup final, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball, as the tournament's best player, ahead of Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben, and was named in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team. Messi created the most chances, made the most successful dribbling runs, made the most deliveries into the box, and produced the most throughballs of any other player throughout the World Cup. However, the decision to award Messi the Golden Ball sparked controversy amongst the media, as Messi had no goals and just one assist (in the Round of 16 match) during the knockout round. FIFA President Sepp Blatter was surprised at the choice of Messi for the Golden Ball, while Argentina's former captain and coach Diego Maradona suggested that "marketing people" had chosen the wrong player for the award. On his award and the final, Messi commented: "I do not care about the Golden Ball. I am just upset by the wasted chances. We had the best chances. We knew we could not dominate the game but we knew what we wanted to do. Right now I do not care about my prize. I just wanted to lift the cup and bring it to Argentina. The pain is very great."

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