A cheeky Panenka-style penalty kick saw Lionel Messi reached an astonishing career milestone last night as he scored his 700th career goal in FC Barcelona’s 2-2 draw game with Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.
The Argentine scored his first goal for Barca on May 01, 2005 at the Camp Nou against Albacete, coming off a fine assist from Ronaldinho. And from there, the story just hasn’t stopped, with goals coming on all shapes and sizes in the last 15 years.
Messi’s wasn’t enough to earn his side the victory they so much needed to leapfrog Real Madrid to the top of the La Liga table.
Cristiano Ronaldo, became the sixth player to reach 700 goals back in October when scoring for Portugal but while the Juventus star achieved the landmark in his 974th game – and almost exactly 17 years after his first goal for Sporting Lisbon in 2002/03 – Messi managed it in his 862nd match and 15 years after his maiden goal, which came in his ninth senior appearance against Albacete in May of the 2004/05 season, aged 17.
Messi therefore boasts a career strike rate of 0.81 per game – and 0.87 at club level – whereas Ronaldo’s was 0.72 when he brought up 700 in his 974th match and is still the same having since moved to 728 goals in 1005 matches (629 in 841 at club level, with a ratio of 0.75).
It must be noted here, however, that Messi’s goal ratio since becoming ‘the’ talisman at the start of the 2008/09 season – by which point he’d already notched up 51 in 140 games despite some injury setbacks disrupting his early rise to stardom – is an astronomical 0.90 overall (649 in 722) and 0.96 for Barcelona (588 in 614).
His last 600 career goals after reaching his first century in his 211th game against Dynamo Kiev in September 2009 have been scored in 651 games (ratio of 0.92), while his 542 for Barca in this period came in 555 fixtures (ratio of 0.98).
Honours-wise, the Argentina star has lifted 26 major club trophies throughout his career, including 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, while he’s been awarded the Ballon d’Or more times than anyone else with six, including the most recent in 2019 when he beat Virgil van Dijk and five-time winner Ronaldo to the gong.
By contrast, the Portugal captain has 22 club titles, including a record five Champions Leagues, three Premier Leagues, a pair of La Ligas and is on the verge of a second Serie A.