Lionel Messi ended a 515-minute goal drought during the Barcelona 2-1 defeat to Valencia on Sunday (17 April) to take his tally to 500 goals in 629 games. The goal this time was in vain as his club suffered a setback in their hopes to win La Liga but still speaks loudly about the Argentinian's success. IBTimes UK looks at some statistics behind his stunning milestone.
First goals - Albacete and Croatia
The 28-year-old magician netted his first goal for Barcelona at the age of 17 during a 2-0 victory over Albacete in the 2004/05 campaign, following an assist from Ronaldinho.
Messi broke his duck with Argentina one year later during a 3-2 defeat to Croatia.
Average – 0.79 goals per game
Messi has scored 450 goals in 525 appearances for Barcelona, giving him an average of more than 0.85. The stats are even more impressive considering that having gone through the youth ranks of La Masia he was not considered a regular goalscorer in his debut seasons.
The Ballon D'or winner, meanwhile, recently hit the 50 milestone for Argentina in his 103 appearances for the national team, putting him just four goals away from the record of his compatriot Gabriel Batistuta.
Those stats, both with Argentina and Barcelona, give him an average of more than 0.79 goals per game.
Best season – 2011/12
The five-time Ballon d'Or has scored 40 or more goals in the last eight campaigns. Yet none has been as successful as the 2011/12 season where he netted a total of 82 goals, 73 in 60 appearances for Barcelona and further nine in his nine international appearances for Argentina.
The Argentinian's best campaign led Pep Guardiola's side to the treble of the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey. He, in the meantime, broke the record set by Gerhard Müller four decades earlier, become the top scored of La Liga with 50 goals, clinch the Golden Boot and netted further 14 goals in the Champions league.
134 less games to achieve it than Cristiano Ronaldo
Messi has reached the 500 milestone after a total of 628 appearances for Barcelona and his country. Ronaldo, who has already 539 goals under his belt, arrived to that figure earlier in the season after 762 appearances for Portugal, Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid. This means that Messi needed 134 games less than his Real Madrid nemesis to reach the record.
Who is next?
Messi's goal against Valencia puts him as the 27th best goal scorer ever. Yet the Argentinian star is still far from the likes of Pele, Romarion and Josef Biscan, a Czech-Austrian striker, who, according to the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF), remain at the very top after he netted 805 goals during his football career between 1928 and 1955.