Lionel Messi means business. This season he has taken on a plan that includes less starts than in the previous campaign, and reports say he’s in a great mood and ready to take on Liverpool.
With 38 starts so far this season, he has 10 less than in Ernesto Valverde’s first season in charge.
His lowest total starts since the 2008-09 season is 41, which happened both in that season and in 2015-16. Messi will probably at least match that total, given Barcelona still have two semifinals to play and the Copa del Rey final, at least, to compete in. But that’s still quite a low number. It’s even more remarkable when you consider how many matches Messi has skipped in international breaks for Argentina.
Diario SPORT claims the star is “in the happiest moment of his life,” especially as he is finding success both on the pitch and off it. He is reportedly very happy in his marriage, and delighted to be a proud father of three sons.
Barcelona have just won La Liga and are looking to add two more trophies this season for an unmatched third treble, but doing so will be extremely difficult with Liverpool in the semis and (should Barça advance) either Ajax or Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League final, not to mention the Copa del Rey final against Valencia, all left to play.
However their task seems much more achievable when you consider Messi’s crazy statistics.
According to stats from Transfermarkt, Messi has played 3,573 minutes this season, in which he has scored 46 goals and given out 22 assists. That means he is averaging about 1.7 goals + assists per 90 minutes, a staggering total.
Liverpool will have to be at their best to keep him out, although they have reasons to be confident as well. They have what many are saying is the best defender in the world, Virgil van Dijk, as well as a super-charged frontline of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané.