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The Greatest of All Time Wins The Best FIFA Men’s Player – The G.O.A.T by Numbers

By Gilad Nagar

He has done it again. Somehow, someway, the greatest footballer to ever grace the planet has won yet another individual award. Despite his emotional exit from his beloved Barcelona in June of 2021, Lionel Messi has won The Best FIFA Men’s Player Award for the year of 2022 and the latter end of 2021. Wasting absolutely no time acclimatizing to a new league and new club, Lionel Messi’s first full season in Paris and subsequent Qatar World Cup renders 2022 a year to remember for La Pulga. As if his trophy cabinet needed any more bedazzling, the silver trophy will further enhance his argument for the greatest to ever do it.

To celebrate yet another magnificent, magical and mind-blowing year for the boy from Rosario, let’s take a look at Messi’s career through numbers to properly appreciate and praise the unprecedented level of talent that the Argentinian footballer possesses.

(Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

Individual Records

(Photo by ben radford/Corbis via Getty Images)

Goal Scoring: Whilst Lionel Messi’s brilliance on the pitch is multi-faceted, his goal scoring ability is unbelievably impressive. The elegance in his left foot strike and his capacity to score from any position in the attacking half is an absolute joy to watch for all football fans. Doing it in all competitions at the highest of levels, Lionel Messi will go down as one of the most prolific goal scorers in football history. Here is a list of some of the more notable goal scoring records held by the 5 foot 7 Argentinian.

  • Most ever goals scored in a calendar year – 91 goals for club and country, no player has ever come close!
  • Most official goals for a single club – 672 goals for Messi’s maiden club F.C Barcelona
  • Most goals scored in a domestic league – 474 in Spain’s top flight, La Liga
  • Most goals scored in finals – 33 goals in Champions League Finals, World Cup Finals and more!
  • Longest goal scoring run in a domestic league – 33 goals in 21 consecutive matches in the 2012/13 La Liga season
  • Only player to score in his teens, twenties and thirties in World Cup history
  • Only player to score in every stage of a FIFA World Cup – The 2022 Qatar World Cup saw Messi score in the group stage, round of 16, quarter finals, semi finals and final
  • Only player to score 40+ goals in 12 consecutive seasons
(Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Assist King: Perhaps most impressive of all is Lionel Messi’s brilliant capability to bring the best out of his teammates through magical assists. Often leaving fans and viewers with their hands on their heads with his glorious passing range, Messi’s unselfish eagerness to bring his teammates into the game is highlighted with the following mind-numbing assist records.

  • Most assists in football history – 352 assists!
  • Most assists for a single club – 268 assists for Spanish giant F.C Barcelona
  • Most assists provided in a single domestic season – 21 assists provided for the Blaugrana in the 2019/20 La Liga season, tied with German Thomas Muller
  • Most assists provided in finals – 14 assists
  • Only player to provide an assist in 5 different World Cup tournaments – 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022
  • Most assists provided in the FIFA World Cup – 8 assists from 2006 to 2022!
(Photo by Adria Puig/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

More Statistical Brilliance: Even though goals and assists are typically sought after statistics to determine a footballer’s ability, Messi’s miscellaneous stats further exemplify his genius on the pitch. Dribbles, chances created and longevity can be attributed to the boy from Rosario and add to the superiority of his career statistics.

  • Most total dribbles completed at the FIFA World Cup Finals – 125
  • Most appearances at the FIFA World Cup Finals – 26 games from 2006 to 2022
  • Most appearances at the FIFA World Cup Finals as captain – 19 games as captain
  • Most minutes played at the FIFA World Cup Finals – 2,314 minutes!!!
  • Most big chances created in World Cup history

Individual Awards

(Photo by Tullio Puglia – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Given the amount of individual awards Lionel Messi has been awarded in his career, the Argentinian could probably create a full museum of trophies! Ballon d’Or, FIFA and UEFA Best Player awards, golden boots, man of the match awards and more, Messi has won them all. Winning another trophy at The Best FIFA Football Awards 2022 won’t even create a dent in Messi’s prize catalogue, but let’s take a look at the hundreds of individual awards won by the G.O.A.T

Man of the Match Awards: Messi has won 11 man of the match awards at the FIFA World Cup Finals which is the most in history! Five of them came in Argentina’s legendary 2022 Qatar World Cup win! Since 2009, Messi has been awarded 324 Man of the Match Awards in approximately 50% of his matches. Meaning, about every 2nd game Messi plays, he is declared the best on ground!

Domestic Player of the Year Awards: 9 times has Lionel Messi won the domestic player of the year award, all of them coming in the La Liga. An astonishing 5 consecutive player of the year awards saw the Argentinian win La Liga’s player of the season award from the 2008/09 season until 2012/13. Despite not winning this award in his first full season at PSG, Messi will be looking to do so in the 2022/23 Ligue 1 season as he has already contributed 24 goals and assists for The Parisians.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: Becoming the first player ever to win two Golden Ball Awards, Lionel Messi’s iconic 2022 Qatar World Cup campaign saw him win the player of the tournament trophy. After previously winning the award in the 2014 World Cup, Messi followed suit by securing the accolade with 7 goals and 3 assists in Qatar. Performing at the highest level for club and country is no easy feat but the great Leo Messi can accomplish anything on the pitch.

European Golden Boot: Once again revisiting Lionel Messi’s lethal eye in front of goal, Messi holds the record for most European Golden Boots. Winning the award 6 times during his time at Barca, Messi managed to win the European Golden Shoe three times in a row between the years of 2016 and 2019!

(Photo by Adria Puig/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ballons d’Or / The Best FIFA Men’s Player / UEFA Best Player in Europe: The most incredible and jaw dropping section of Lionel Messi’s trophy cabinet must be the segment dedicated to his international player of the year awards. Throughout his illustrious career, the Argentinian magician has received the Ballon d’Or 7 times, The Best FIFA Men’s Player 3 times, and the UEFA Best Player in Europe award 3 times. Being recognized by three of the most powerful and influential football bodies is no easy feat, and winning awards from FIFA, UEFA and France Football is impressive beyond belief. Not only does Messi hold the record for most Ballons d’Or, he has also won it 4 consecutive times which is an all time record. Along with this, Messi’s longevity is illustrated through his record of the longest gap between 2 Ballons d’Or awards – 12 years between his first in 2009 and last in 2021.

(Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

Club and Country Success

At the end of the day, football and all other sports are about winning. Whilst Lionel Messi’s all-time great statistics and records are brilliant and inspiring, their significance and meaning would be diminished without any team success. Fortunately enough for the Argentinian maestro, he has won nearly every single trophy there is to win in his acclaimed career.

(Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Blaugrana’s Glory: Messi’s 17 year stint at the Catalonian club saw Barcelona win an endless amount of trophies and competitions. Interestingly enough, Messi holds the record for most trophies won with a single club, with 35 trophies during his time in Barcelona. Domestic dominance saw the Argentinian win the La Liga 10 times with his maiden club, along with 7 Spanish Cups and 8 Spanish Super Cups. Continentally, 4 of Barcelona’s 5 UEFA Champions League trophies were won during Lionel Messi’s time at the club, along with 3 UEFA Supercup wins for the Blaugrana. Internationally, Messi won 3 FIFA Club World Cup trophies at Barca. The Spanish outlets trophy cabinet’s expansion during the mid 2000’s and 2010’s can be greatly attributed to Lionel Messi and his pivotal contribution.

(Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

The Parisian’s Prestige: Despite only competing for the Parisian club since August of 2021, Lionel Messi’s success in France is already commendable. Despite a devastating knockout to Karim Benzema’s second leg hattrick in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, PSG were able to complete the double in 2021/22 by winning the Ligue 1 and the French Super Cup. Impressively, there is only one tournament that Messi has competed in during his career and not won it, that is the Coupe de France. After being knocked out in the Round of 16 to Marseille in the 2022/23 edition of the cup, the latest winner of The Best FIFA Men’s Player will go another year with one trophy that he has not won in his career. Nonetheless, Messi’s goal for the 2022/23 season will be to secure his 5th UEFA Champions League trophy and bring The Parisians their first continental success.

(Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

La Albiceleste Acclaim: For a significant period of time the only criticism of Lionel Messi’s glorious career was his lack of success with La Albiceleste. Haters claimed that Messi could not reach the level of fellow South Americans Maradona or Pele unless he brought a trophy back to Argentina. After brutal final losses such as the 2014 World Cup Final, Messi finally won a trophy for his beloved Argentina in the 2020/21 version of the Copa America. Going on to win the 2022 Finalissima at Wembley, the only trophy Messi had to win to achieve G.O.A.T status was the FIFA World Cup. Following one of the greatest World Cup campaigns of all time, the boy from Rosario lifted the Qatar World Cup trophy and cemented his name in history. Despite bringing home Argentina’s 3rd World Cup trophy and owing the South American nation absolutely nothing, Lionel Messi has not retired from international football and has stated that he will do his absolute best to perform at the 2026 FIFA World Cup for Argentina.

Where to now for the G.O.A.T?

Whilst Lionel Messi’s drive to place himself in the record books of football has decreased, there is no doubt that his passion and love for ‘The Beautiful Game’ is not dwindling. Perhaps Lionel Messi’s target is to secure another UEFA Champions League trophy with Paris Saint-Germain, or simply remain fit and able to perform at the highest level until the next FIFA World Cup. Ultimately, it is anyone’s guess how long Lionel Messi’s career will continue for and whilst he is still elegantly zipping past players, scoring free kick screamers and delivering mind-blowing through balls we should enjoy and appreciate the G.O.A.T and his contribution to the most loved sport in the world.

Have your say! Is Lionel Messi the G.O.A.T? If it is not clear from the article, this writer is absolutely certain that the Argentinian is the best to ever play football!

 

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