When Lionel Messi hammered home a typical finish against Valladolid on Tuesday night, it marked a true passing of the baton.
For many years now, the Argentinian has had to live with comparisons of why certain stats of his perhaps don’t match up to those of Maradona, Ronaldo and Pele.
As time marches on Messi does too, and his strike against La Pucela was goal No. 644 for Barcelona.
Six hundred and forty four!
It’s a scarcely believable total and took him one clear of Pele’s record for Santos. A record so good that it was felt to be unbeatable.
To beat Messi’s 644 goal record, someone will have to score an average of 43 goals a season for 15 years....for one club.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) December 22, 2020
A record which came against teams who were, for all intents and purposes, not close to those squads that Messi has had to face on a weekly basis since the mid-2000’s.
What’s more, every type of goal - bar an Olympic goal direct from a corner - has been scored, and with alarming regularity against the very best opponents that the world of football has to offer.
No matter the team or standard, Messi treats them all the same... sometimes with utter contempt, as you watch the way in which he single-handedly destroys careers, one goal at a time.
From the very first against Albacete, through hat-tricks against Real Madrid, Champions League final goals, pokers against Arsenal and Espanyol, a repoker against Leverkusen... there are so many highlights that it’s impossible to pick just one.
What is possible finally to detail, however, and which should’ve been respected long before now by commentators, media companies and the like, is that there is no player to compare to Lionel Messi.
Not given due credit as a striker, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo still posturing and peacocking around, he’d already long since passed Gerd Muller.
Now he’s taken the ultimate revenge on all those that suggest there are better forwards around. Ahem, 644 goals says otherwise.
In assists terms, passing accuracy, influence on matches, trophies won and man of the match of the match awards, he still stands head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
He has nothing left to prove, not that he ever did.
Anyone with half a brain could see that he had the best elements of any one of those players he’d forever been compared with, and bundled them together to give us one superhuman footballing genius.
The various different stats can always be massaged to suit of course, but when football is a distant memory for Messi, his goals will still remain and stand the test of time.
If Barca are lucky enough to keep him for a couple more seasons, don’t bet against goal number 700 coming up sometime in 2021/22 either.
Lewandowski might currently be ‘The Best,’ but Lionel Andres Messi is ‘The Best Ever.’ Period.