|Full name||Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini|
|Date of birth||24 June 1987|
|Place of birth||Rosario, Argentina|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|1994–2000||Newell's Old Boys|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 9 November 2019|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 18 November 2019
Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini[note 1] (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾez ˈmesi] (listen);[A] born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Often considered the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record six FIFA Ballon d'or/Best FIFA Men's Player awards,[note 2] and a record six European Golden Shoes. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey. A prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (427), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (173) and the Copa América (13). He has scored over 700 senior career goals for club and country.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At age 13, he relocated to Spain to join Barcelona, who agreed to pay for his medical treatment. After a fast progression through Barcelona's youth academy, Messi made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. Despite being injury-prone during his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing 2007 as a finalist for both the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year award, a feat he repeated the following year. His first uninterrupted season was 2008–09, during which he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football. At 22 years old, Messi won the 2009 Ballon d'Or and the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year award by record voting margins. Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning three consecutive FIFA Ballons d'Or, including an unprecedented fourth. During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer in official competitions in March 2012. The following two seasons, Messi finished twice second for the Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, his perceived career rival. Messi regained his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, breaking the all-time goalscoring records in both La Liga and the Champions League in November 2014,[note 3] and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble.
An Argentine international, Messi is his country's all-time leading goalscorer. At youth level, he won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, finishing the tournament with both the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and an Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a diminutive, left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, who described Messi as his successor. After his senior debut in August 2005, Messi became the youngest Argentine to play and score in a FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition, and reached the final of the 2007 Copa América, where he was named young player of the tournament. As the squad's captain from August 2011, he led Argentina to three consecutive finals: the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which he won the Golden Ball, and the 2015 and 2016 Copas América. After announcing his international retirement in 2016, he reversed his decision and led his country to qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and a third-place finish at the 2019 Copa América.
According to France Football, Messi was the world's highest-paid footballer for five years out of six between 2009 and 2014, and was ranked the world's highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019. He was among Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 and 2012. One of the most famous athletes in the world, Messi has been sponsored by sportswear company Adidas since 2006 and has established himself as their leading brand endorser.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Club career
- 2.1 Barcelona
- 2.1.1 2003–05: Rise to the first team
- 2.1.2 2005–08: Becoming a starting eleven player
- 2.1.3 2009–11: Sustained success
- 2.1.4 2012: A record-breaking year
- 2.1.5 2013–14: Messidependencia
- 2.1.6 2014–15: A historic treble
- 2.1.7 2015–16: Domestic success
- 2.1.8 2016–17: Fourth Golden Boot
- 2.1.9 2017–18: Domestic double and a record fifth Golden Boot
- 2.1.10 2018–19: Barcelona captain, tenth La Liga title, and a record sixth Golden Boot
- 2.1.11 2019–20: A record sixth FIFA Player of the Year Award
- 2.1 Barcelona
- 3 International career
- 3.1 2004–05: Success at youth level
- 3.2 2005–06: Senior and World Cup debuts
- 3.3 2007–08: Copa América final and Olympic gold
- 3.4 2008–11: Collective decline
- 3.5 2011–13: Assuming the captaincy
- 3.6 2014–15: World Cup and Copa América finals
- 3.7 2016: Copa América Centenario, retirement, and return
- 3.8 2018: World Cup
- 3.9 2019: Copa América
- 4 Player profile
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 Personal life
- 7 Career statistics
- 8 Honours and achievements
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Lionel Andrés Messi was born on 24 June 1987 in Rosario, the third of the four children of Jorge Messi, a steel factory manager, and his wife Celia Cuccittini, who worked in a magnet manufacturing workshop. On his father's side, he is of Italian and Spanish descent, the great-grandson of immigrants from the northcentral Adriatic Marche region of Italy and Catalonia, and on his mother's side, he has primarily Italian ancestry. Growing up in a tight-knit, football-loving family, "Leo" developed a passion for the sport from an early age, playing constantly with his older brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and his cousins, Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi, both of whom became professional footballers. At the age of four he joined local club Grandoli, where he was coached by his father, though his earliest influence as a player came from his maternal grandmother, Celia, who accompanied him to training and matches. He was greatly affected by her death, shortly before his eleventh birthday; since then, as a devout Catholic, he has celebrated his goals by looking up and pointing to the sky in tribute of his grandmother.
A lifelong supporter of Newell's Old Boys, Messi joined the Rosario club when he was six years old. During the six years he played for Newell's, he scored almost 500 goals as a member of "The Machine of '87", the near-unbeatable youth side named for the year of their birth, and regularly entertained crowds by performing ball tricks during half-time of the first team's home games. However, his future as a professional player was threatened when, at age 10, he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency. As his father's health insurance covered only two years of growth hormone treatment, which cost at least $1,000 per month, Newell's agreed to contribute, but later reneged on their promise. He was scouted by Buenos Aires club River Plate, whose playmaker, Pablo Aimar, he idolised, but they were also unable to pay for his treatment due to the country's economic collapse. His goalscoring idol growing up was Ronaldo, with Messi calling him "the best forward I've ever seen".
As the Messi family had relatives in Catalonia, they sought to arrange a trial with Barcelona in September 2000. First team director Charly Rexach immediately wanted to sign him, but the board of directors hesitated; at the time it was highly unusual for European clubs to sign foreign players of such a young age. On 14 December, an ultimatum was issued for Barcelona to prove their commitment, and Rexach, with no other paper at hand, offered a contract on a paper napkin. In February 2001, the family relocated to Barcelona, where they moved into an apartment near the club's stadium, Camp Nou. During his first year in Spain, Messi rarely played with the Infantiles due to a transfer conflict with Newell's; as a foreigner, he could only be fielded in friendlies and the Catalan league. Without football, he struggled to integrate into the team; already reserved by nature, he was so quiet that his teammates initially believed he was mute. At home, he suffered from homesickness after his mother moved back to Rosario with his brothers and little sister, María Sol, while he stayed in Barcelona with his father.
After a year at Barcelona's youth academy, La Masia, Messi was finally enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) in February 2002. Now playing in all competitions, he befriended his teammates, among whom were Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué. After completing his growth hormone treatment aged 14, Messi became an integral part of the "Baby Dream Team", Barcelona's greatest-ever youth side. During his first full season (2002–03), he was top scorer with 36 goals in 30 games for the Cadetes A, who won an unprecedented treble of the league and both the Spanish and Catalan cups. The Copa Catalunya final, a 4–1 victory over Espanyol, became known in club lore as the partido de la máscara, the final of the mask. A week after suffering a broken cheekbone during a league match, Messi was allowed to start the game on the condition that he wear a plastic protector; soon hindered by the mask, he took it off and scored two goals in 10 minutes before his substitution. At the close of the season, he received an offer to join Arsenal, his first from a foreign club, but while Fàbregas and Piqué soon left for England, he chose to remain in Barcelona.
2003–05: Rise to the first team
During the 2003–04 season, his fourth with Barcelona, Messi rapidly progressed through the club's ranks, debuting for a record five teams in a single campaign. After being named player of the tournament in four international pre-season competitions with the Juveniles B, he played only one official match with the team before being promoted to the Juveniles A, where he scored 18 goals in 11 league games. Messi was then one of several youth players called up to strengthen a depleted first team during the international break. French winger Ludovic Giuly explained how a teenage Leo caught the eye in a training session with Frank Rijkaard's first team: "He destroyed us all... They were kicking him all over the place to avoid being ridiculed by this kid, he just got up and kept on playing. He would dribble past four players and score a goal. Even the team's starting centre-backs were nervous. He was an alien."
At 16 years, four months, and 23 days old, Messi made his first team debut when he came on in the 75th minute during a friendly against José Mourinho's Porto on 16 November 2003. His performance, creating two chances and a shot on goal, impressed the technical staff, and he subsequently began training daily with the club's reserve side, Barcelona B, as well as weekly with the first team. After his first training session with the senior squad, Barça's new star player, Ronaldinho, told his teammates that he believed the 16-year-old would become an even better player than himself. Ronaldinho soon befriended Messi, whom he called "little brother", which greatly eased his transition into the first team.
To gain further match experience, Messi joined Barcelona C in addition to the Juveniles A, playing his first game for the third team on 29 November. He helped save them from the relegation zone of the Tercera División, scoring five goals in ten games, including a hat-trick in eight minutes during a Copa del Rey match while man-marked by Sevilla's Sergio Ramos. His progress was reflected in his first professional contract, signed on 4 February 2004, which lasted until 2012 and contained an initial buyout clause of €30 million. A month later, on 6 March, he made his debut for Barcelona B in the Segunda División B, and his buyout clause automatically increased to €80 million. He played five games with the B team that season but did not score. Physically he was weaker than his opponents, who were often much older and taller, and in training he worked on increasing his muscle mass and overall strength in order to be able to shake off defenders. Towards the end of the season, he returned to both youth teams, helping the Juveniles B win the league. He finished the campaign having scored for four of his five teams with a total of 36 goals in all official competitions.
During the 2004–05 season, Messi was a guaranteed starter for the B team, playing 17 games throughout the campaign and scoring on six occasions. Since his debut the previous November, he had not been called up to the first team again, but in October 2004, the senior players asked manager Frank Rijkaard to promote him. Since Ronaldinho already played on the left wing, Rijkaard moved Messi from his usual position onto the right flank (though initially against the player's wishes), allowing him to cut into the centre of the pitch and shoot with his dominant left foot. Messi made his league debut during the next match on 16 October, against Espanyol, coming on in the 82nd minute. At 17 years, three months, and 22 days old, he was at the time the youngest player to represent Barcelona in an official competition. As a substitute player, he played 77 minutes in nine matches for the first team that season, including his debut in the UEFA Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk. He scored his first senior goal on 1 May 2005, against Albacete, from an assist by Ronaldinho, becoming – at that time – the youngest-ever scorer for the club. Barcelona, in their second season under Rijkaard, won the league for the first time in six years.
2005–08: Becoming a starting eleven player
On 24 June 2005, his 18th birthday, Messi signed his first contract as a senior team player. It made him a Barcelona player until 2010, two years less than his previous contract, but his buyout clause increased to €150 million. His breakthrough came two months later, on 24 August, during the Joan Gamper Trophy, Barcelona's pre-season competition. A starter for the first time, he gave a well-received performance against Fabio Capello's Juventus, receiving an ovation from the Camp Nou. While Capello requested to loan Messi, a bid to buy him came from Inter Milan, who were willing to pay his €150 million buyout clause and triple his wages. According to then-president Joan Laporta, it was the only time the club faced a real risk of losing Messi, but he ultimately decided to stay. On 16 September, his contract was updated for the second time in three months and extended to 2014.
Due to issues regarding his legal status in the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Messi missed the start of La Liga, but on 26 September, he acquired Spanish citizenship and became eligible to play. Wearing the number 19 shirt, he gradually established himself as the first-choice right winger, forming an attacking trio with Ronaldinho and striker Samuel Eto'o. He was in the starting line-up in major matches like his first Clásico against rivals Real Madrid on 19 November, as well as Barcelona's away victory over Chelsea in the last 16 round of the Champions League. After he had scored 8 goals in 25 games, including his first in the Champions League, his season ended prematurely during the return leg against Chelsea on 7 March 2006, when he suffered a torn hamstring. Messi worked to regain fitness in time for the Champions League final, but on 17 May, the day of the final, he was eventually ruled out. He was so disappointed that he did not celebrate his team's victory over Arsenal in Paris, something he later came to regret.
While Barcelona began a gradual decline, the 19-year-old Messi established himself as one of the best players in the world during the 2006–07 campaign. Already an idol to the culés, the club's supporters, he scored 17 goals in 36 games across all competitions. However, he continued to be plagued by major injuries; a metatarsal fracture sustained on 12 November 2006 kept him out of action for three months. He recovered in time for the last 16 round of the Champions League against Liverpool, but was effectively marked out of the game; Barcelona, the reigning champions, were out of the competition. In the league, his goal contribution increased towards the end of the season; 11 of his 14 goals came from the last 13 games. On 10 March 2007, he scored his first hat-trick in a Clásico, the first player to do so in 12 years, equalising after each goal by Real Madrid to end the match in a 3–3 draw in injury time. His growing importance to the club was reflected in a new contract, signed that month, which greatly increased his wages.
Already frequently compared to compatriot Diego Maradona, Messi proved their similarity when he nearly replicated Maradona's two most famous goals in the span of three weeks. During a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe on 18 April, he scored a goal remarkably similar to Maradona's goal in the quarter-finals of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, known as the Goal of the Century. Messi collected the ball on the right side near the halfway line, ran 60 metres (66 yd), and beat five defenders before scoring with an angled finish, just as Maradona had done. A league match against Espanyol on 9 June saw him score by launching himself at the ball and guiding it past the goalkeeper with his hand in similar fashion to Maradona's Hand of God goal in the same World Cup match. As Messi continued his individual rise, Barcelona faltered; the team failed to reach the Copa del Rey final after Messi was rested during the second leg against Getafe and lost the league to Real Madrid on head-to-head results.
After Ronaldinho lost form, Messi became Barça's new star player at only 20 years old, receiving the nickname "Messiah" from the Spanish media. His efforts in 2007 also earned him award recognition; journalists voted him the third-best player of the year for the 2007 Ballon d'Or, behind Kaká and runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo, while international managers and national team captains voted him second for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, again behind Kaká. Although he managed to score 16 goals during the 2007–08 campaign, the second half of his season was again marred by injuries after he suffered a torn hamstring on 15 December. He returned to score twice in their away victory against Celtic in the last 16 round of the Champions League, becoming the competition's top scorer at that point with six goals, but reinjured himself during the return leg on 4 March 2008. Rijkaard had fielded him despite warning from the medical staff, leading captain Carles Puyol to criticise the Spanish media for pressuring Messi to play every match. Barcelona finished the season without trophies, eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals by the eventual champions, Manchester United, and placed third in the league.
After two unsuccessful seasons, Barcelona were in need of an overhaul, leading to the departure of Rijkaard and Ronaldinho. Upon the latter's departure, Messi was given the number 10 shirt. He signed a new contract in July 2008 on an annual salary of €7.8 million, becoming the club's highest-paid player. Ahead of the new season, a major concern remained his frequent muscular injuries, which had left him side-lined for a total of eight months between 2006 and 2008. To combat the problem, the club implemented new training, nutrition, and lifestyle regimens, and assigned him a personal physiotherapist, who would travel with him during call-ups for the Argentina national team. As a result, Messi remained virtually injury-free during the next four years, allowing him to reach his full potential. Despite his injuries early in the year, his performances in 2008 saw him again voted runner-up for the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, both times behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
2009–11: Sustained success
In his first uninterrupted campaign, the 2008–09 season, he scored 38 goals in 51 games, contributing alongside Eto'o and winger Thierry Henry to a total of 100 goals in all competitions, a record at the time for the club.
During his first season under Barcelona's new manager, former captain Pep Guardiola, Messi played mainly on the right wing, like he had under Rijkaard, though this time as a false winger with the freedom to cut inside and roam the centre. During the Clásico on 2 May 2009, however, he played for the first time as a false nine, positioned as a centre-forward but dropping deep into midfield to link up with Xavi and Andrés Iniesta. He assisted his side's first goal and scored twice to end the match in an emphatic 6–2 victory, the team's greatest-ever score at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Returning to the wing, he played his first final since breaking into the first team on 13 May, scoring once and assisting a second goal as Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao 4–1 to win the Copa del Rey. With 23 league goals from Messi that season, Barcelona became La Liga champions three days later and achieved its fifth double.
As the season's Champions League top scorer with nine goals, the youngest in the tournament's history, Messi scored two goals and assisted two more to ensure a 4–0 quarter-final victory over Bayern Munich. He returned as a false nine during the final on 27 May in Rome against Manchester United. Barcelona were crowned champions of Europe by winning the match 2–0, the second goal coming from a Messi header over goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. Barcelona thus achieved the first treble in the history of Spanish football. This success was reflected in a new contract, signed on 18 September, which committed Messi to the club through 2016 with a new buyout clause of €250 million, while his salary increased to €12 million. His team's prosperity continued into the second half of 2009, as Barcelona became the first club to achieve the sextuple, winning six top-tier trophies in a single year. After victories in the Supercopa de España and UEFA Super Cup in August, Barcelona won the FIFA Club World Cup against Estudiantes de La Plata on 19 December, with Messi scoring the winning 2–1 goal with his chest. At 22 years old, Messi won the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, both times by the greatest voting margin in each trophy's history.
Unsatisfied with his position on the right wing, Messi resumed playing as a false nine in early 2010, beginning with a Champions League last 16-round match against VfB Stuttgart. After a first-leg draw, Barcelona won the second leg 4–0 with two goals and an assist from Messi. At that point, he effectively became the tactical focal point of Guardiola's team, and his goalscoring rate increased. Messi scored a total of 47 goals in all competitions that season, equaling Ronaldo's club record from the 1996–97 campaign. He scored all of his side's four goals in the Champions League quarter-final against Arsène Wenger's Arsenal on 6 April while becoming Barcelona's all-time top scorer in the competition. Although Barcelona were eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals by the eventual champions, Inter Milan, Messi finished the season as top scorer (with 8 goals) for the second consecutive year. As the league's top scorer with 34 goals (again tying Ronaldo's record), he helped Barcelona win a second consecutive La Liga trophy with only a single defeat.
Messi secured Barcelona's first trophy of the 2010–11 campaign, the Supercopa de España, by scoring a hat-trick in his side's second-leg 4–0 victory over Sevilla, after a first-leg defeat. Assuming a playmaking role, he was again instrumental in a Clásico on 29 November 2010, the first with José Mourinho in charge of Real Madrid, as Barcelona defeated their rivals 5–0. Messi helped the team achieve 16 consecutive league victories, a record in Spanish football, concluding with another hat-trick against Atlético Madrid on 5 February 2011. His club performances in 2010 earned him the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or, an amalgamation of the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, though his win was met with some criticism due to his lack of success with Argentina at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Under the award's old format, he would have placed just outside the top three, owing his win to the votes from the international coaches and captains.
Towards the end of the season, Barcelona played four Clásicos in the span of 18 days. A league match on 16 April ended in a draw after a penalty from Messi. After Barcelona lost the Copa del Rey final four days later, Messi scored both goals in his side's 2–0 win in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals in Madrid, the second of which – a slaloming dribble past three Real players – was acclaimed as one of the best ever in the competition. Although he did not score, he was again important in the second-leg draw that sent Barcelona through to the Champions League final, where they faced Manchester United in a repeat of the final two years earlier. As the competition's top scorer for the third consecutive year, with 12 goals, Messi gave a man-of-the-match performance at Wembley on 28 May, scoring the match-winning goal of Barça's 3–1 victory. Barcelona won a third consecutive La Liga title. In addition to his 31 goals, Messi was also the league's top assist provider with 18. He finished the season with 53 goals and 24 assists in all competitions, becoming Barcelona's all-time single-season top scorer and the first player in Spanish football to reach the 50-goal benchmark.
As Messi developed into a combination of a number 8 (a creator), a 9 (scorer), and a 10 (assistant), he scored an unprecedented 73 goals and provided 29 assists in all club competitions during the 2011–12 season, producing a hat-trick or more on 10 occasions. He began the campaign by helping Barcelona win both the Spanish and European Super Cups; in the Supercopa de España, he scored three times to achieve a 5–4 aggregate victory over Real Madrid, overtaking Raúl as the competition's all-time top scorer with eight goals. At the close of the year, on 18 December, he scored twice in the FIFA Club World Cup final, a 4–0 victory over Santos, earning the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament, as he had done two years previously. For his efforts in 2011, he again received the FIFA Ballon d'Or, becoming only the fourth player in history to win the Ballon d'Or three times, after Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, and Marco van Basten. Additionally, he won the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, a revival of the old-style Ballon d'Or. By then, Messi was already widely considered one of the best footballers in history, alongside players like Diego Maradona and Pelé.
2012: A record-breaking year
As Messi maintained his goalscoring form into the second half of the season, the year 2012 saw him break several longstanding records. On 7 March, two weeks after scoring four goals in a league fixture against Valencia, he scored five times in a Champions League last 16-round match against Bayer Leverkusen, an unprecedented achievement in the history of the competition. In addition to being the joint top assist provider with five assists, this feat made him top scorer with 14 goals, tying José Altafini's record from the 1962–63 season, as well as becoming only the second player after Gerd Müller to be top scorer in four campaigns. Two weeks later, on 20 March, Messi became the top goalscorer in Barcelona's history at 24 years old, overtaking the 57-year record of César Rodríguez's 232 goals with a hat-trick against Granada.
Despite Messi's individual form, Barcelona's four-year cycle of success under Guardiola – one of the greatest eras in the club's history – drew to an end. Although Barcelona won the Copa del Rey against Athletic Bilbao on 25 May, its 14th title of that period, the team lost the league to Real Madrid and was eliminated in the Champions League semi-finals by the eventual champions, Chelsea, with Messi sending a crucial second-leg penalty kick against the crossbar. In Barça's last home league match on 5 May, against Espanyol, Messi scored all four goals before approaching the bench to embrace Guardiola, who had announced his resignation as manager. He finished the season as league top scorer in Spain and Europe for a second time, with 50 goals, a La Liga record, while his 73 goals in all competitions surpassed Gerd Müller's 67 goals in the 1972–73 Bundesliga season, making him the single-season top scorer in the history of European club football.
Under manager Tito Vilanova, who had first coached him aged 14 at La Masia, Messi helped the club achieve its best-ever start to a La Liga season during the second half of 2012, amassing 55 points by the competition's midway point, a record in Spanish football. A double scored on 9 December against Real Betis saw Messi break two longstanding records: he surpassed César Rodríguez's record of 190 league goals, becoming Barcelona's all-time top scorer in La Liga, and Gerd Müller's record of most goals scored in a calendar year, overtaking his 85 goals scored in 1972 for Bayern Munich and Germany. Messi sent Müller a number 10 Barcelona shirt, signed "with respect and admiration", after breaking his 40-year record. At the close of the year, Messi had scored a record 91 goals in all competitions for Barcelona and Argentina. Although FIFA did not acknowledge the achievement, citing verifiability issues, he received the Guinness World Records title for most goals scored in a calendar year. As the odds-on favourite, Messi again won the FIFA Ballon d'Or, becoming the only player in history to win the Ballon d'Or four times.
Barcelona had virtually secured their La Liga title by the start of 2013, eventually equalling Real Madrid's 100-point record of the previous season. However, their performances deteriorated in the second half of the 2012–13 campaign, concurrently with Vilanova's absence due to ill health. After losing successive Clásicos, including the Copa del Rey semi-finals, they were nearly eliminated in the first knockout round of the Champions League by Milan, but a revival of form in the second leg led to a 4–0 comeback, with two goals and an assist from Messi. Now in his ninth senior season with Barcelona, Messi signed a new contract on 7 February, committing himself to the club through 2018, while his fixed wage rose to €13 million. He wore the captain's armband for the first time a month later, on 17 March, in a league match against Rayo Vallecano; by then, he had become the team's tactical focal point to a degree that was arguably rivalled only by former Barcelona players Josep Samitier, László Kubala and Johan Cruyff. Since his evolution into a false nine three years earlier, his input into the team's attack had increased exponentially; from 24% in their treble-winning campaign, his goal contribution rose to more than 40% that season.
After four largely injury-free seasons, the muscular injuries that had previously plagued Messi reoccurred. After he suffered a hamstring strain on 2 April, during the first quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, his appearances became sporadic. In the second leg against PSG, with an underperforming Barcelona down a goal, Messi came off the bench in the second half and within nine minutes helped create their game-tying goal, which allowed them to progress to the semi-finals. Still unfit, he proved ineffective during the first leg against Bayern Munich and was unable to play at all during the second, as Barcelona were defeated 7–0 on aggregate by the eventual champions. These matches gave credence to the notion of Messidependencia, Barcelona's perceived tactical and psychological dependence on their star player.
Messi continued to struggle with injury throughout 2013, eventually parting ways with his long-time personal physiotherapist. Further damage to his hamstring sustained on 12 May ended his goalscoring streak of 21 consecutive league games, a worldwide record; he had netted 33 goals during his run, including a four-goal display against Osasuna, while becoming the first player to score consecutively against all 19 opposition teams in La Liga. With 60 goals in all competitions, including 46 goals in La Liga, he finished the campaign as league top scorer in Spain and Europe for the second consecutive year, becoming the first player in history to win the European Golden Shoe three times. Following an irregular start to the new season under manager Gerardo Martino, formerly of his boyhood club Newell's Old Boys, Messi suffered his fifth injury of 2013 when he tore his hamstring on 10 November, leaving him sidelined for two months. Despite his injuries, he was voted runner-up for the FIFA Ballon d'Or, relinquishing the award after a four-year monopoly to Cristiano Ronaldo.
During the second half of the 2013–14 season, doubts persisted over Messi's form, leading to a perception among the culés that he was reserving himself for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Statistically, his contribution of goals, shots, and passes had dropped significantly compared to previous seasons. He still managed to break two longstanding records in a span of seven days: a hat-trick on 16 March against Osasuna saw him overtake Paulino Alcántara's 369 goals to become Barcelona's top goalscorer in all competitions including friendlies, while another hat-trick against Real Madrid on 23 March made him the all-time top scorer in El Clásico, ahead of the 18 goals scored by former Real Madrid player Alfredo Di Stéfano. Messi finished the campaign with his worst output in five seasons, though he still managed to score 41 goals in all competitions. For the first time in five years, Barcelona ended the season without a major trophy; they were defeated in the Copa del Rey final by Real Madrid and lost the league in the last game to Atlético Madrid, causing Messi to be booed by sections of fans at the Camp Nou. After prolonged speculation over his future with the club, Messi signed a new contract on 19 May 2014, only a year after his last contractual update; his salary increased to €20 million, or €36 million before taxes, the highest wage in the sport.
2014–15: A historic treble
Under new manager and former captain Luis Enrique, Messi experienced a largely injury-free start to the 2014–15 season, allowing him to break three more longstanding records towards the end of the year. A hat-trick scored against Sevilla on 22 November made him the all-time top scorer in La Liga, as he surpassed the 59-year record of 251 league goals held by Telmo Zarra. A third hat-trick, scored against city rivals Espanyol on 7 December, allowed him to surpass César Rodríguez as the all-time top scorer in the Derbi barceloní with 12 goals. Messi again placed second in the FIFA Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, largely owing to his second-place achievement with Argentina at the World Cup.
At the start of 2015, Barcelona were perceived to be headed for another disappointing end to the season, with renewed speculation in the media that Messi was leaving the club. A turning point came on 11 January during a 3–1 victory over Atlético Madrid, the first time Barça's attacking trident of Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar, dubbed "MSN", each scored in a match, marking the beginning of a highly successful run. After five years of playing in the centre of the pitch, Messi had returned to his old position on the right wing late the previous year, by his own suggestion according to Suárez, their striker. From there, he regained his best – arguably his best-ever – form, while Suárez and Neymar ended the team's attacking dependency on their star player. With 58 goals from Messi, the trio scored a total of 122 goals in all competitions that season, a record in Spanish football.
Towards the end of the campaign, Messi scored in a 1–0 away win over Atlético Madrid on 17 May, securing the La Liga title. Among his 43 league goals that season was a hat-trick scored in 11 minutes against Rayo Vallecano on 8 March, the fastest of his senior career; it was his 32nd hat-trick overall for Barcelona, allowing him to overtake Telmo Zarra with the most hat-tricks in Spanish football. As the season's top assist provider with 18 he surpassed Luís Figo with the most assists in La Liga;[note 4] he made his record 106th assist in a fixture against Levante on 15 February, in which he also scored a hat-trick. Messi scored twice as Barcelona defeated Athletic Bilbao 3–1 in the Copa del Rey final on 30 May, achieving the sixth double in their history. His opening goal was hailed as one of the greatest in his career; he collected the ball near the halfway line and beat four opposing players, before feinting the goalkeeper to score in a tight space by the near post.
In the Champions League, Messi scored twice and assisted on another in their 3–0 semi-final victory over Bayern Munich, now under the stewardship of Guardiola. His second goal, which came only three minutes after his first, saw him chip the ball over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after his dribble past Jérôme Boateng had made the defender drop to the ground; it went viral, becoming the year's most tweeted about sporting moment, and was named the best goal of the season by UEFA. Despite a second-leg loss, Barcelona progressed to the final on 6 June in Berlin, where they defeated Juventus 3–1 to win their second treble, becoming the first team in history to do so. Although Messi did not score, he participated in each of his side's goals, particularly the second as he forced a parried save from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon from which Suárez scored the match-winning goal on the rebound. In addition to being the top assist provider with six assists, Messi finished the competition as the joint top scorer with ten goals, which earned him the distinction of being the first player ever to achieve the top scoring mark in five Champions League seasons. For his efforts during the season, he received the UEFA Best Player in Europe award for a second time.
2015–16: Domestic success
Messi opened the 2015–16 season by scoring twice from free kicks in Barcelona's 5–4 victory (after extra time) over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup. On 16 September, he became the youngest player to make 100 appearances in the UEFA Champions League in a 1–1 away draw to Roma. After a knee injury, he returned to the pitch on 21 November, making a substitute appearance in Barcelona's 4–0 away win over rivals Real Madrid in El Clásico. Messi capped off the year by winning the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final on 20 December, collecting his fifth club trophy of 2015 as Barcelona defeated River Plate 3–0 in Yokohama. On 30 December, Messi scored on his 500th appearance for Barcelona, in a 4–0 home win over Real Betis.
On 11 January 2016, Messi won the FIFA Ballon d'Or for a record fifth time in his career. On 3 February, he scored a hat-trick in Barcelona's 7–0 win against Valencia in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final at the Camp Nou. In a 6–1 home win against Celta de Vigo in the league, Messi assisted Suárez from a penalty kick. Some saw it as "a touch of genius", while others criticised it as being disrespectful to the opponent. The Celta players never complained and their coach defended the penalty, stating, "Barca's forwards are very respectful." The penalty routine has been compared to that of Barça icon Johan Cruyff in 1982, who was battling lung cancer, leading many fans to indicate that the penalty was a tribute to him. Cruyff himself was "very happy" with the play, insisting "it was legal and entertaining".
On 17 February, Messi reached his 300th league goal in a 1–3 away win against Sporting de Gijón. A few days later, he scored both goals in Barcelona's 0–2 win against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, in the first leg of the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League round of 16, with the second goal being Barcelona's 10,000th in official competitions. On 17 April, Messi ended a five-match scoring drought with his 500th senior career goal for club and country in Barcelona's 2–1 home loss to Valencia. Messi finished the 2015–16 season by setting up both goals in Barcelona's 2–0 extra time win over Sevilla in the 2016 Copa del Rey Final, at the Vicente Calderón Stadium, on 22 May 2016, as the club celebrated winning the domestic double for the second consecutive season. In total, Messi scored 41 goals and provided 23 assists, as Barcelona's attacking trio managed a Spanish record of 131 goals throughout the season, breaking the record they had set the previous season.
2016–17: Fourth Golden Boot
Messi opened the 2016–17 season by lifting the 2016 Supercopa de España as Barcelona's captain in the absence of the injured Andrés Iniesta; he set-up Munir's goal in a 2–0 away win over Sevilla in the first leg on 14 August, and subsequently scored and assisted in a 3–0 win in the return leg on 17 August. Three days later, he scored two goals and provided an assist to lead Barcelona to a 6–2 victory against Real Betis in the opening game of the 2016–17 La Liga season. On 13 September 2016, Messi scored his first hat-trick of the season in the opening game of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League campaign against Celtic in a 7–0 victory; this was also Messi's sixth hat-trick in the Champions League, the most by any player. A week later, Messi sustained a groin injury in a 1–1 draw against Atlético Madrid and was ruled out with injury for three weeks. He marked his return with a goal, scoring three minutes after coming off the bench in a 4–0 home win over Deportivo de La Coruña, on 16 October. Three days after this, he netted his thirty-seventh club hat-trick as Barcelona defeated Manchester City 4–0. On 1 November, Messi scored his 54th Champions League group stage goal in Barcelona's 3–1 away loss to Manchester City, surpassing the previous record of 53 goals held by Raúl.
Messi finished the year with 51 goals, making him Europe's top scorer, one ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimović. After placing second in the 2016 Ballon d'Or, on 9 January 2017 Messi also finished in second place – behind Cristiano Ronaldo once again – in the 2016 Best FIFA Men's Player Award. On 11 January, Messi scored from a free-kick in Barcelona's 3–1 victory against Athletic Bilbao in the second leg of the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey, which enabled Barcelona to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition; with his 26th goal from a free-kick for Barcelona in all competitions, he equalled the club's all-time record, which had previously been set by Ronald Koeman. In his next league match, on 14 January, Messi scored in a 5–0 win against Las Palmas; with this goal, he equalled Raúl's record for the most number of teams scored against in La Liga (35).
On 4 February 2017, Messi scored his 27th free-kick for Barcelona in a 3–0 home win over Athletic Bilbao in the league, overtaking Koeman as the club's all-time top-scorer from free-kicks. On 23 April, Messi scored twice in a 3–2 away win over Real Madrid. His game-winning goal in stoppage time was his 500th for Barcelona. His memorable celebration saw him taking off his Barcelona shirt and holding it up to incensed Real Madrid fans – with his name and number facing the crowd. On 27 May, Messi scored a goal and set up another for Paco Alcácer in the 2017 Copa del Rey Final, helping Barcelona to a 3–1 victory over Alavés, and was named Man of the Match. In total, Messi finished the 2016–17 season with 54 goals and 16 assists, while his 37 goals in La Liga saw him claim both the Pichichi and European Golden Boot Awards for the fourth time in his career.
2017–18: Domestic double and a record fifth Golden Boot
Messi opened the 2017–18 season by converting a penalty in Barcelona's 1–3 first leg home defeat to Real Madrid in Supercopa de España. Thereby, Messi also extended his El Clásico goalscoring record with the goal being his 24th official and 25th overall. On 9 September, Messi scored his first hat-trick of the 2017–18 league campaign, against Espanyol in derbi barceloní, thus helping to secure a 5–0 home victory for Blaugrana over local rivals. Messi netted twice against Gianluigi Buffon, on 12 September, as Barça defeated the last season's Italian champions Juventus 3–0 at home in the UEFA Champions League. On 19 September, Messi found the net four times in a 6–1 trashing of Eibar at the Camp Nou in La Liga. Three weeks later, on 1 October, Messi surpassed his former teammate Carles Puyol to become the third highest appearance maker in the club's history, as he helped Barça defeat Las Palmas 3–0 by assisting Sergio Busquets' opener and later adding two himself in his 594th official game for the club; the league game was played behind closed doors at the Camp Nou due to violence in Catalonia relating to an ongoing independence referendum.
On 18 October, in his 122nd European club appearance, Messi scored his 97th UEFA Champions League goal, and his 100th in all UEFA club competitions, in a 3–1 home victory over Olympiakos. Messi became only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo to reach this century milestone, but accomplished it in 21 fewer appearances than the Portuguese counterpart. On 4 November, he made his 600th appearance for Barcelona in a 2–1 home win over Sevilla in La Liga. Following the reception of his fourth Golden Boot, Messi signed a new deal with Barcelona on 25 November, keeping him with the club through the 2020–21 season. His buyout clause was set at €700 million. On 7 January 2018, Messi made his 400th La Liga appearance with Barcelona in a 3–0 home win over Levante, marking the occasion with his 144th league assist and 365th league goal for the club, the latter of which saw him equal Gerd Müller's record for the most league goals scored for the same club in one of Europe's top five divisions. A week later, he broke the record, scoring his 366th La Liga goal from a free kick in a 4–2 away win against Real Sociedad.
On 4 March, he scored his 600th senior career goal from a free kick in a 1–0 home win over Atlético Madrid, in La Liga. On 14 March, Messi scored his 99th and 100th Champions League goals in a 3–0 home win over Chelsea, becoming only the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo to reach this landmark, and achieving it at a younger age, in fewer appearances, having played fewer minutes, and having taken fewer shots than his Portuguese counterpart. His opening goal, which came after only two minutes and eight seconds, was also the fastest of his career, as Barcelona advanced to the quarter-finals of the competition for the eleventh consecutive season. On 7 April, he scored a hat-trick in a 3–1 win over Leganés including his sixth goal scored from a free-kick for the season, matching the record set by former teammate Ronaldinho. He once again finished the season as the top scorer in La Liga, with 34 goals, which also saw him win his fifth Golden Shoe award. On 21 April, Messi scored Barcelona's second goal – his 40th of the season – in a 5–0 win over Sevilla in the 2018 Copa del Rey Final, later also setting up Suárez's second goal; this was Barcelona's fourth consecutive title and their 30th overall. On 29 April, Messi scored a hat-trick in a 4–2 away win over Deportivo de La Coruña, which saw Barcelona claim their 25th league title. On 9 May, Messi scored as Barcelona defeated Villarreal 5–1 to set the longest unbeaten streak (43 games) in La Liga history.
2018–19: Barcelona captain, tenth La Liga title, and a record sixth Golden Boot
With the departure of former captain Andrés Iniesta in May 2018, Messi was named the team's new captain for the following season. On 12 August 2018, he lifted his first title as Barcelona's captain, the Supercopa de España, following a 2–1 victory over Sevilla. On 19 August, Messi scored twice in helping Barcelona defeat Alavés 3–0 in their first La Liga match of the season, with his first goal, a free kick that he rolled under the jumping Alavés wall, making history in being Barcelona's 6000th goal in La Liga. On 18 September, Messi scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 home win over PSV Eindhoven in Barcelona's opening Champions League group stage match of the season, setting a new record for most hat-tricks in the competition, with eight. On 20 October, Messi scored and assisted in a 4–2 home win over Sevilla, but was later forced off in the 26th minute after falling awkwardly and injuring his right arm; tests later confirmed that he had fractured his radial bone, ruling him out for approximately three weeks. On 8 December, Messi scored two free kicks – his ninth and tenth goals from set pieces during the calendar year – in a 4–0 away win over Catalan Derby rivals Espanyol in La Liga; this was the first time ever that he had managed such a feat in the league. His first goal was also his 10th league goal of the season, making him the first player ever to reach double figures in La Liga for 13 consecutive seasons.
On 13 January 2019, Messi scored his 400th La Liga goal in his 435th league appearance in a 3–0 home win over Eibar, becoming the first player ever to manage this tally in just one of Europe's top five leagues. On 2 February, Messi scored twice in a 2–2 draw against Valencia, with his first goal coming from the penalty spot, his 50th La Liga penalty goal; as such, he became only the third player in La Liga history after Cristiano Ronaldo and Hugo Sánchez to score 50 penalties in the competition. Later that month, the club admitted they had begun preparations for Messi's future retirement. On 23 February, Messi scored the 50th hat-trick of his career and also provided an assist for Suárez, as he helped Barcelona come from behind to achieve a 4–2 away victory over Sevilla in La Liga; the goal was also his 650th career goal for club and country at senior level. On 16 April, Messi scored twice in a 3–0 home victory over Manchester United in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals to give Barcelona a 4–0 aggregate win, which saw Barcelona progress to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 2015; these were also his first goals in the Champions League quarter-finals since 2013.
On 27 April, Messi came off the bench and scored the only goal in a 1–0 home win over Levante, which allowed Barcelona to clinch the league title; this was his 450th La Liga appearance, and his first league title as Barcelona's captain. On 1 May, Messi scored twice in a 3–0 home win over Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals; his second goal of the match, a 35-yard free kick, was the 600th senior club goal of his career, all of which had been scored with Barcelona. In the return leg six days later at Anfield, Barcelona suffered a 4–0 away defeat, which saw Liverpool advance to the final 4–3 on aggregate. On 19 May, in Barcelona's final La Liga match of the season, Messi scored twice in a 2–2 away draw against Eibar (his 49th and 50th goals of the season in all competitions), which saw him capture his sixth Pichichi Trophy as the league's top scorer, with 36 goals in 34 appearances; with six titles, he equalled Zarra as the player with the most top-scorer awards in La Liga. He also captured his sixth Golden Shoe award, and a record third consecutive award since the 2016–17 season. On 25 May, Messi scored his final goal of the season in a 2–1 defeat to Valencia in the 2019 Copa del Rey Final.
2019–20: A record sixth FIFA Player of the Year Award
On 5 August 2019, it was announced that Messi would miss Barcelona's US tour after sustaining a right calf injury. On 19 August, Messi's chipped goal from the edge of the box against Real Betis was nominated for the 2019 FIFA Puskás Award. Later that month, he suffered another setback following the return of his calf injury, which ruled him out of the opening game of the season; as a result, he was sidelined indefinitely, and was only expected to return to action with Barcelona after the September international break. On 2 September, Messi was shortlisted as one of the three finalists for both the 2019 FIFA Puskás Award and the 2019 Best FIFA Men's Player Award, with Messi winning the latter on 23 September.
Messi made his first appearance of the season on 17 September, and on 6 October he scored his first goal of the season with a free kick in a 4–0 home win over Sevilla; this was his 420th goal in La Liga, which saw him break Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 419 goals scored in Europe's top five leagues. On 23 October, Messi scored his first Champions League goal of the season in a 2–1 away win over Slavia Prague, becoming the first player to score in 15 consecutive Champions League seasons (excluding qualifying rounds). He also equalled Raúl and Cristiano Ronaldo's shared record of the most sides scored against in the competition (33). On 29 October, Messi scored and assisted twice in a 5–1 home win over Real Valladolid in La Liga; his first goal – a set piece from 35 yards – was the 50th free-kick of his career. His goals (608) also saw him overtake Cristiano Ronaldo's senior goal tally (606) at club level. On 9 November, Messi scored three goals (including two free kicks) in a 4–1 home win against Celta Vigo. This was his 34th hat-trick in La Liga, equalling Cristiano Ronaldo's Spanish top-flight record.
2004–05: Success at youth level
As a dual Argentine-Spanish national, Messi was eligible to play for the national team of both countries. Selectors for Spain's Under-17 squad began pursuing him in 2003 after Barcelona's director of football, Carles Rexach, alerted the Royal Spanish Football Federation to their young player. Messi declined the offer, having aspired to represent La Albiceleste since childhood. To further prevent Spain from taking him, the Argentine Football Association organised two under-20 friendlies in June 2004, against Paraguay and Uruguay, with the purpose of finalising his status as an Argentina player in FIFA. Five days after his 17th birthday, on 29 June, he made his debut for his country against Paraguay, scoring once and providing two assists in their 8–0 victory. He was subsequently included in the squad for the South American Youth Championship, held in Colombia in February 2005. As he lacked the stamina of his teammates, the result of his former growth hormone deficiency, he was used as a substitute in six of the nine games. After being named man of the match against Venezuela, he scored the winning 2–1 goal in the crucial last match against Brazil, thereby securing their third-place qualification for the FIFA World Youth Championship.
Aware of his physical limitations, Messi employed a personal trainer to increase his muscle mass, returning to the squad in an improved condition in time for the World Youth Championship, hosted by the Netherlands in June 2005. After he was left out of the starting line-up in their first match against the United States, a 1–0 defeat, the squad's senior players asked manager Francisco Ferraro to let Messi start, as they considered him their best player. After helping the team defeat Egypt and Germany to progress past the group stage, Messi proved decisive in the knockout phase as he scored their equaliser against Colombia, provided a goal and an assist against title favourites Spain, and scored their opening goal against reigning champions Brazil. Ahead of the final, he was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament. He scored two penalties in their 2–1 victory over Nigeria, clinching Argentina's fifth championship and finishing the tournament as top scorer with 6 goals. His performances drew comparisons with compatriot Diego Maradona, who had led Argentina to the title in 1979.
2005–06: Senior and World Cup debuts
In recognition of his achievements with the under-20 side, senior manager José Pékerman gave Messi his first call-up for a friendly against Hungary on 17 August 2005. Aged 18, Messi made his senior debut for Argentina in the Ferenc Puskás Stadium when he came on in the 63rd minute, only to be sent off after two minutes for a perceived foul against Vilmos Vanczák, who had grabbed his shirt; Messi had struck the defender with his arm while trying to shake him off, which the referee interpreted as an intentional elbowing, a contentious decision. Messi was reportedly found weeping in the dressing room after his sending-off. He returned to the team on 3 September in their World Cup qualifier defeat to Paraguay, which he had declared his "re-debut" ahead of the match. Messi started his first game in the next qualifying match against Peru, in which he was able to win a crucial penalty that secured their victory. After the match, Pékerman described him as "a jewel". He subsequently made regular appearances for the team ahead of Argentina's participation in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, scoring his first goal in a friendly against Croatia on 1 March 2006. A hamstring injury sustained a week later jeopardised his presence in the World Cup, but he was nevertheless selected for Pékerman's squad and regained fitness in time for the start of the tournament.
During the World Cup in Germany, Messi witnessed their opening match victory against the Ivory Coast from the substitutes' bench. In the next match, against Serbia and Montenegro, he became the youngest player to represent Argentina at a FIFA World Cup when he came on as a substitute in the 74th minute. He assisted their fourth strike within minutes and scored the final goal in their 6–0 victory, making him the youngest scorer in the tournament and the sixth-youngest goalscorer in the history of the World Cup. As their progression to the knockout phase was secured, several starters were rested during the last group match. Messi consequently started the game against the Netherlands, a 0–0 draw, as they won their group on goal differential. In the round of 16 match against Mexico, played on his 19th birthday, Messi came on in the 84th minute, with the score tied at 1–1. He appeared to score a goal, but it was contentiously ruled offside, with the team needing a late goal in extra time to proceed. He did not play in the quarter-final against Germany, during which Argentina were eliminated 4–2 in a penalty shootout. Back home, Pékerman's decision to leave him on the bench against Germany led to widespread criticism from those who believed Messi could have changed the outcome of the match in Argentina's favour.
2007–08: Copa América final and Olympic gold
As Messi evolved into one of the best players in the world, he secured a place in Alfio Basile's starting line-up, as part of a team considered favourites to win the 2007 Copa América, held in Venezuela. He set up the game-winning goal of their 4–1 victory over the United States in the opening match, before winning a penalty that led to the game-tying first strike of their 4–2 win in the next match against Colombia. As they had secured their place in the knockout phase, Messi started the next game on the bench, coming on in the last 25 minutes with the score at 0–0 to help his team defeat Paraguay by assisting their only goal. At the quarter-final stage, where the group winners faced Peru, he scored the second goal of a 4–0 victory that saw them through to the semi-final, during which he chipped the ball over Mexico's goalkeeper to ensure another 3–0 win. In a surprise defeat, Argentina lost the final 3–0 to a Brazil squad that lacked several of the nation's best players. Their unexpected loss was followed by much criticism in Argentina, though Messi was mostly exempt due to his young age and secondary status to star player Juan Román Riquelme. He was named the best young player of the tournament by CONMEBOL.
Ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Barcelona legally barred Messi from representing Argentina at the tournament as it coincided with their Champions League qualifying matches. After interference from newly appointed Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola, who had won the tournament in 1992, Messi was permitted to join Sergio Batista's under-23 squad in Beijing. During the first match, he scored the opening goal and assisted another in their 2–1 victory over the Ivory Coast. Following a 1–0 win in the next group match against Australia, ensuring their quarter-final qualification, Messi was rested during the game against Serbia, while his side won the match to finish first in their group. Against the Netherlands, he again scored the first goal and assisted a second strike to help his team to a 2–1 win in extra time. After a 3–0 semi-final victory over Brazil, Messi assisted the only goal in the final as Argentina defeated Nigeria to claim Olympic gold medals. Along with Riquelme, Messi was singled out by FIFA as the stand-out player from the tournament's best team.
2008–11: Collective decline
From late 2008, the national team experienced a three-year period marked by poor performances. Under manager Diego Maradona, who had led Argentina to World Cup victory as a player, the team struggled to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, securing their place in the tournament only after defeating Uruguay 1–0 in their last qualifying match. Maradona was criticised for his strategic decisions, which included playing Messi out of his usual position. In eight qualifying matches under Maradona's stewardship, Messi scored only one goal, netting the opening goal in the first such match, a 4–0 victory over Venezuela. During that game, played on 28 March 2009, he wore Argentina's number 10 shirt for the first time, following the international retirement of Riquelme. Overall, Messi scored four goals in 18 appearances during the qualifying process. Ahead of the tournament, Maradona visited Messi in Barcelona to request his tactical input; Messi then outlined a 4–3–1–2 formation with himself playing behind the two strikers, a playmaking position known as the enganche in Argentine football, which had been his preferred position since childhood.
Despite their poor qualifying campaign, Argentina were considered title contenders at the World Cup in South Africa. At the start of the tournament, the new formation proved effective; Messi managed at least four attempts on goal during their opening match but was repeatedly denied by Nigeria's goalkeeper, resulting in a 1–0 win. During the next match, against South Korea, he excelled in his playmaking role, participating in all four goals of his side's 4–1 victory. As their place in the knockout phase was guaranteed, most of the starters were rested during the last group match, but Messi reportedly refused to be benched. He wore the captain's armband for the first time in their 2–0 win against Greece; as the focal point of their play, he helped create their second goal to see Argentina finish as group winners. In the round of 16, they defeated Mexico 3–1, with Messi assisting their first goal, a controversial strike that stood despite being offside.
Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-final against Germany, at the same stage of the tournament and by the same opponent as four years earlier. Their 4–0 loss was their worst margin of defeat since 1974. FIFA subsequently identified Messi as one of the tournament's 10 best players, citing his "outstanding" pace and creativity and "spectacular and efficient" dribbling, shooting and passing. Back home, however, Messi was the subject of harsher judgement. As the perceived best player in the world, he had been expected to lead an average team to the title, as Maradona arguably did in 1986, but he had failed to replicate his performances at Barcelona with the national team, leading to the accusation that he cared less about his country than his club.
Maradona was replaced by Sergio Batista, who had orchestrated Argentina's Olympic victory. Batista publicly stated that he intended to build the team around Messi, employing him as a false nine within a 4–3–3 system, as used to much success by Barcelona. Although Messi scored a record 53 goals during the 2010–11 club season, he had not scored for Argentina in an official match since March 2009. Despite the tactical change, his goal drought continued during the 2011 Copa América, hosted by Argentina. Their first two matches, against Bolivia and Colombia, ended in draws. Media and fans noted that he did not combine well with striker Carlos Tevez, who enjoyed greater popularity among the Argentine public; Messi was consequently booed by his own team's supporters for the first time in his career. During the crucial next match, with Tevez on the bench, he gave a well-received performance, assisting two goals in their 3–0 victory over Costa Rica. After the quarter-final against Uruguay ended in a 1–1 draw following extra time, with Messi having assisted their equaliser, Argentina were eliminated 4–5 in the penalty shootout by the eventual champions.
2011–13: Assuming the captaincy
After Argentina's unsuccessful performance in the Copa América, Batista was replaced by Alejandro Sabella. Upon his appointment in August 2011, Sabella awarded the 24-year-old Messi the captaincy of the squad, in accord with then-captain Javier Mascherano. Reserved by nature, Messi went on to lead his squad by example as their best player, while Mascherano continued to fulfil the role of the team's on-field leader and motivator. In a further redesign of the team, Sabella dismissed Tevez and brought in players with whom Messi had won the World Youth Championship and Olympic Games. Now playing in a free role in an improving team, Messi ended his goal drought by scoring during their first World Cup qualifying match against Chile on 7 October, his first official goal for Argentina in two-and-a-half years.
Under Sabella, Messi's goalscoring rate drastically increased; where he had scored only 17 goals in 61 matches under his previous managers, he scored 25 times in 32 appearances during the following three years. He netted a total of 12 goals in 9 games for Argentina in 2012, equalling the record held by Gabriel Batistuta, Argentina's all-time top scorer, for the most goals scored in a calendar year for their country. His first hat-trick with the Albicelestes came in a friendly against Switzerland on 29 February 2012, followed by two more hat-tricks over the next year-and-a-half in friendlies against Brazil and Guatemala. Messi then helped the team secure their place in the 2014 World Cup with a 5–2 victory over Paraguay on 10 September 2013; in addition to providing an assist, he scored twice from a penalty kick, taking his international tally to 37 goals to become Argentina's second-highest goalscorer behind Batistuta. Overall, he had scored a total of 10 goals in 14 matches during the qualifying campaign. Concurrently with his bettered performances, his relationship with his compatriots improved, as he gradually began to be perceived more favourably in Argentina.
2014–15: World Cup and Copa América finals
Ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, doubts persisted over Messi's form, as he finished an unsuccessful and injury-plagued season with Barcelona. At the start of the tournament, however, he gave strong performances, being elected man of the match in their first four matches. In his first World Cup match as captain, he led them to a 2–1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina; he helped create Sead Kolašinac's own goal and scored their second strike after a dribble past three players, his first World Cup goal since his debut in the tournament eight years earlier. During the second match against Iran, he scored an injury-time goal from 25 yards out to end the game in a 1–0 win, securing their qualification for the knockout phase. He scored twice in the last group match, a 3–2 victory over Nigeria, his second goal from a free kick, as they finished first in their group. Messi assisted a late goal in extra time to ensure a 1–0 win against Switzerland in the round of 16, before starting the play that led to their match-winning 1–0 goal in the quarter-final against Belgium, helping Argentina progress to the semi-final of the World Cup for the first time since 1990. Following a 0–0 draw in extra time, they eliminated the Netherlands 4–2 in a penalty shootout to reach the final, with Messi scoring his team's first penalty.
Billed as Messi versus Germany, the world's best player against the best team, the final was a repeat of the 1990 final featuring Diego Maradona. Within the first half-hour, Messi had started the play that led to a goal, but it was ruled offside. He missed several opportunities to open the scoring throughout the match, in particular at the start of the second half when his breakaway effort went wide of the far post. Substitute Mario Götze finally scored in the 113th minute, followed in the last minute of extra time by a free kick that Messi sent over the net, as Germany won the match 1–0 to claim the World Cup. At the conclusion of the final, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament. In addition to being the joint third-highest goalscorer, with four goals and an assist, he created the most chances, completed the most dribbling runs, made the most deliveries into the penalty area and produced the most throughballs in the competition. However, his selection drew criticism due to his lack of goals in the knockout round; FIFA President Sepp Blatter expressed his surprise, while Maradona suggested that Messi had undeservedly been chosen for marketing purposes.
Another final appearance, the third of Messi's senior international career, followed in the 2015 Copa América, held in Chile. Under the stewardship of former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino, Argentina entered the tournament as title contenders due to their second-place achievement at the World Cup. During the opening match against Paraguay, they were ahead two goals by half-time but lost their lead to end the match in a 2–2 draw; Messi had scored from a penalty kick, netting his only goal in the tournament. Following a 1–0 win against defending champions Uruguay, Messi earned his 100th cap for his country in the final group match, a 1–0 win over Jamaica, becoming only the fifth Argentine to achieve this milestone. In his 100 appearances, he had scored a total of 46 goals for Argentina, 22 of which came in official competitive matches.
As Messi evolved from the team's symbolic captain into a genuine leader, he led Argentina to the knockout stage as group winners. In the quarter-final, they created numerous chances, including a rebound header by Messi, but were repeatedly denied by Colombia's goalkeeper, and ultimately ended the match scoreless, leading to a 5–4 penalty shootout in their favour, with Messi netting his team's first spot kick. At the semi-final stage, Messi excelled as playmaker as he provided three assists and helped create three more goals in his side's 6–1 victory over Paraguay, receiving applause from the initially hostile crowd. Argentina started the final as the odds-on title favourites, but were defeated by Chile 4–1 in a penalty shootout after an 0–0 extra-time draw. Faced with aggression from opposing players, including taking a boot to the midriff, Messi played below his standards, though he was the only Argentine to successfully convert his penalty. At the close of the tournament, he was reportedly selected to receive the Most Valuable Player award but rejected the honour. As Argentina continued a trophy drought that began in 1993, the World Cup and Copa América defeats again brought intense criticism for Messi from Argentine media and fans.
2016: Copa América Centenario, retirement, and return
Messi's place in Argentina's Copa América Centenario squad was initially put in jeopardy when he sustained a back injury in a 1–0 friendly win over Honduras in a pre-Copa América warm-up match on 27 May 2016. It was later reported that he had suffered a deep bruise in his lumbar region. He was later left on the bench in Argentina's 2–1 opening win over defending champions Chile on 6 June due to concerns regarding his fitness. Although Messi was declared match-fit for his nation's second group match against Panama on 10 June, Martino left him on the bench once again; he replaced Augusto Fernández in the 61st minute and subsequently scored a hat-trick in 19 minutes, also starting the play which led to Sergio Agüero's goal, as the match ended in a 5–0 victory, sealing Argentina's place in the quarter-finals of the competition; he was elected man of the match for his performance.
On 18 June 2016, in the quarter-final of the Copa América against Venezuela, Messi produced another man of the match performance, assisting two goals and scoring another in a 4–1 victory, which enabled him to equal Gabriel Batistuta's national record of 54 goals in official international matches. This record was broken three days later when Messi scored in a 4–0 win in the semi-final of the Copa América against hosts the United States; he also assisted two goals during the match as Argentina sealed a place in the final of the competition for a second consecutive year, and was named man of the match once again.
During a repeat of the previous year's final on 26 June, Argentina once again lost to Chile on penalties after a 0–0 deadlock, resulting in Messi's third consecutive defeat in a major tournament final with Argentina, and his fourth overall. After the match, Messi, who had missed his penalty in the shootout, announced his retirement from international football. He stated, "I tried my hardest. The team has ended for me, a decision made." Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said after the match, "My generation can't compare him to Maradona that's for my generation, because of what Maradona did for Argentine football. But I think the best player ever played today here in the United States." Messi finished the tournament as the second highest scorer, behind Eduardo Vargas, with five goals, and was the highest assist provider with four assists, also winning more Man of the Match awards than any other player in the tournament (3); he was named to the team of the tournament for his performances, but missed out on the Golden Ball Award for best player, which went to Alexis Sánchez.
"Don't go, Leo"
Following his announcement, a campaign began in Argentina for Messi to change his mind about retiring. He was greeted by fans with signs like "Don't go, Leo" when the team landed in Buenos Aires. President of Argentina Mauricio Macri urged Messi not to quit, stating, "We are lucky, it is one of life's pleasures, it is a gift from God to have the best player in the world in a footballing country like ours... Lionel Messi is the greatest thing we have in Argentina and we must take care of him." Mayor of Buenos Aires Horacio Rodríguez Larreta unveiled a statue of Messi in the capital to convince him to reconsider retirement. On social networks, NoTeVayasLeo became a global trending topic, and even a playlist on Spotify. The campaign also continued in the streets and avenues of the Argentine capital, with about 50,000 supporters going to the Obelisco de Buenos Aires on 2 July, using the same slogan.
—Messi reversing his decision from retiring on 12 August 2016
Just a week after Messi announced his international retirement, Argentine newspaper La Nación reported that he was reconsidering playing for Argentina at the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in September. On 12 August, it was confirmed that Messi had reversed his decision to retire from international football, and he was included in the squad for the national team's upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers. On 1 September 2016, in his first game back, he scored in a 1–0 home win over Uruguay in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.
On 28 March 2017, Messi was suspended for four international games for insulting an assistant referee in a game against Chile on 23 March 2017. He was also fined CHF 10,000. On 5 May 2017, Messi's four match ban as well as his 10,000 CHF fine was lifted by FIFA after Argentina Football Association appealed against his suspension, which meant he could now play Argentina's remaining World Cup Qualifiers. Argentina's place in the 2018 World Cup was in jeopardy going into their final qualifying match as they were sixth in their group, outside the five possible CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying spots, meaning they risked failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1970. On 10 October 2017, Messi led his country to World Cup qualification in scoring a hat-trick as Argentina came from behind to defeat Ecuador 3–1 away; Argentina had not defeated Ecuador in Quito since 2001. Messi's three goals saw him become the joint all-time leading scorer in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers with 21 goals, alongside Uruguay's Luis Suárez, overtaking the previous record which was held by compatriot Hernán Crespo.
2018: World Cup
Following on from their poor qualification campaign, salvaged by Messi, expectations were not high going into the 2018 World Cup, with the team, without an injured Messi, losing 6–1 to Spain in March 2018. Prior to Argentina's opener, there was speculation in the media over whether this would be Messi's final World Cup. In the team's opening group match against Iceland on 16 June, Messi missed a potential match-winning penalty in an eventual 1–1 draw. In Argentina's second game of the 2018 World Cup on 21 June, the team lost 3–0 to Croatia. Post match the Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli spoke of the lack of quality in the team surrounding Messi, "the reality of the Argentina squad clouds his [Messi's] brilliance". Messi had just 49 touches of the ball and only two inside the Croatia penalty area. Sampaoli stated, "we quite simply couldn't pass to him to help him generate the situations he is used to. We worked to give him the ball but the opponent also worked hard to prevent him from getting the ball. We lost that battle." Croatia midfielder Luka Modrić also stated post match, "Messi is an incredible player but he can't do everything alone."
In Argentina's final group match against Nigeria at the Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg on 26 June, Messi scored the opening goal in an eventual 2–1 victory, becoming the third Argentine after Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta to score in three different World Cups; he also became the first player to score in the World Cup in his teens, twenties, and his thirties. A goal of the tournament contender, Messi received a long pass from midfield and controlled the ball on the run with two touches before striking it across goal into the net with his weaker right foot. Argentina progressed to the second round as group runners-up behind Croatia. In the round of 16 match against eventual champions France on 30 June, Messi set up Gabriel Mercado's and Sergio Agüero's goals in a 4–3 defeat, which saw Argentina eliminated from the World Cup. With his two assists in his team's second round fixture, Messi became the first player to provide an assist in the last four World Cups, and also became the first player to provide two assists in a match for Argentina since Diego Maradona had managed the same feat against South Korea in 1986.
Following the tournament, Messi stated that he would not participate in Argentina's friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia in September 2018, and commented that it would be unlikely that he would represent his nation for the remainder of the calendar year. Messi's absence from the national team and his continued failure to win a title with Argentina prompted speculation in the media that Messi might retire from international football once again. In March 2019, however, he was called up to the Argentina squad once again for the team's friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco later that month. He made his international return on 22 March, in a 3–1 friendly defeat to Venezuela, in Madrid.
2019: Copa América
On 21 May 2019, Messi was included in Lionel Scaloni's final 23-man Argentina squad for the 2019 Copa América. In Argentina's second group match of the tournament on 19 June, Messi scored the equalising goal from the penalty spot in a 1–1 draw against Paraguay. After coming under criticism in the media over his performance following Argentina's 2–0 victory over Venezuela in the quarter-finals at the Maracanã Stadium on 28 June, Messi commented that it had not been his best Copa América, while also criticising the poor quality of the pitches. Following Argentina's 2–0 defeat to hosts Brazil in the semi-finals on 2 July, Messi was critical of the refereeing during the match. In the third-place match against Chile on 6 July, Messi set-up Agüero's opening goal from a free kick in an eventual 2–1 win, to help Argentina capture the bronze medal; however, he was sent off along with Gary Medel in the 37th minute of play, after being involved in an altercation with the Chilean. Following the match, Messi refused to collect his medal, and implied in a post-match interview that his comments following the semi-final led to his sending off. Messi later issued an apology for his comments, but was fined $1,500 and was handed a one-match ban by CONMEBOL, which ruled him out of Argentina's next World Cup qualifier. On 2 August, Messi was banned for three months from international football and was fined $50,000 by CONMEBOL for his comments against the referee's decisions; this ban meant he would miss Argentina's friendly matches against Chile, Mexico and Germany in September and October.
Style of play
Due to his short stature, Messi has a lower centre of gravity than taller players, which gives him greater agility, allowing him to change direction more quickly and evade opposing tackles; this has led the Spanish media to dub him La Pulga Atómica ("The Atomic Flea"). Despite being physically unimposing, he possesses significant upper-body strength, which, combined with his low centre of gravity and resulting balance, aids him in withstanding physical challenges from opponents; he has consequently been noted for his lack of diving in a sport rife with playacting. His short, strong legs allow him to excel in short bursts of acceleration while his quick feet enable him to retain control of the ball when dribbling at speed. His former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola once stated, "Messi is the only player that runs faster with the ball than he does without it." Although he has improved his ability with his weaker foot since his mid-20s, Messi is predominantly a left-footed player; with the outside of his left foot, he usually begins dribbling runs, while he uses the inside of his foot to finish and provide passes and assists.
One of the most prolific goalscorers and clinical finishers of all time, Messi is known for his powerful and accurate striking ability from both inside and outside the area, as well as his positioning, quick reactions, and ability to make attacking runs to beat the defensive line. While he is renowned for his eye for goal, he also functions in a playmaking role, courtesy of his vision and precise passing. Moreover, he is an accurate free kick and penalty kick taker, though his ability on penalties has somewhat deteriorated in recent seasons. Although his conversion rate from free kicks was initially low towards the beginning of his career, he later developed into one of the best free kick takers in the world, and is even considered by certain pundits to be one of the greatest set piece specialists of all time. Messi's pace and technical ability enable him to undertake individual dribbling runs towards goal, in particular during counterattacks, usually starting from the halfway line or the right side of the pitch. Widely considered to be the best dribbler in the world, and one of the greatest of all time, with regard to this ability, his former Argentina manager Diego Maradona has said of him, "The ball stays glued to his foot; I've seen great players in my career, but I've never seen anyone with Messi's ball control." Beyond his individual qualities, he is also a well-rounded, hard-working team player, known for his creative combinations, in particular with former Barcelona midfielders Xavi and Andrés Iniesta.
Tactically, Messi plays in a free attacking role; a versatile player, he is capable of attacking on either wing or through the centre of the pitch. His favoured position in childhood was the playmaker behind two strikers, known as the enganche in Argentine football, but he began his career in Spain as a left-winger or left-sided forward. Upon his first-team debut, he was moved onto the right wing by manager Frank Rijkaard; from this position, he could more easily cut through the defence into the middle of the pitch and curl shots on goal with his left foot, rather than predominantly cross balls for teammates. Under Guardiola and subsequent managers, he most often played in a false nine role; positioned as a centre-forward or lone striker, he would roam the centre, often moving deep into midfield and drawing defenders with him, in order to create and exploit spaces for passes, other teammates' attacking runs off the ball, Messi's own dribbling runs, or combinations with Xavi and Iniesta. Under the stewardship of Luis Enrique, Messi initially returned to playing in the right-sided position that characterised much of his early career in the manager's 4–3–3 formation, while he was increasingly deployed in a deeper, free playmaking role in later seasons. Under Valverde, Messi played in a variety of roles. While he occasionally continued to be deployed in a deeper role, from which he could make runs from behind into the box, or even on the right wing or as a false nine, he was also used in a more offensive, central role in a 4–2–3–1, or as a second striker in a 4–4–2 formation, where he was once again given the licence to drop deep, link-up with midfielders, orchestrate his teams attacking plays, and create chances for his attacking partner Suárez.
As his career advanced, and his tendency to dribble diminished slightly with age, Messi began to dictate play in deeper areas of the pitch, and developed into one of the best passers and playmakers in world football. His work-rate off the ball and defensive responsibilities also decreased as his career progressed; by covering less ground on the pitch, and instead conserving his energy for short bursts of speed, he was able to improve his efficiency, movement, and positional play, and was also able to avoid muscular injuries, despite often playing a large number of matches throughout a particular season on a consistent basis. Indeed, while he was injury-prone in his early career, he was later able to improve his injury record by running less off the ball, and by adopting a stricter diet, training regime, and sleep schedule. With the Argentina national team, Messi has similarly played anywhere along the frontline; under various managers, he has been employed on the right wing, as a false nine, as an out-and-out striker, in a supporting role alongside another forward, or in a deeper, free creative role as a classic number 10 playmaker or attacking midfielder behind the strikers.
A prodigious talent as a teenager, Messi established himself among the world's best players before age 20. Diego Maradona considered the 18-year-old Messi the best player in the world alongside Ronaldinho, while the Brazilian himself, shortly after winning the Ballon d'Or, commented, "I'm not even the best at Barça," in reference to his protégé. Four years later, after Messi had won his first Ballon d'Or by a record margin, the public debate regarding his qualities as a player moved beyond his status in contemporary football to the possibility that he was the greatest player in history. An early proponent was his then-manager Pep Guardiola, who, as early as August 2009, declared Messi to be the best player he had ever seen. In the following years, this opinion gained greater acceptance among pundits, managers, former and current players, and by the end of Barça's second treble-winning season, Messi's superiority, ahead of Maradona and Pelé, had become the predominant view among insiders in continental Europe. A frequent dismissal, however, has centred on the fact that Messi has not won the FIFA World Cup with Argentina, leading some in the sport to instead cite him as the best club player in history.
Throughout his career, Messi has been compared with his compatriot Diego Maradona, due to their similar playing styles as diminutive, left-footed dribblers. Initially, he was merely one of many young Argentine players, including his boyhood idol Pablo Aimar, to receive the "New Maradona" moniker, but as his career progressed, Messi proved his similarity beyond all previous contenders, establishing himself as the greatest player Argentina had produced since Maradona. Jorge Valdano, who won the 1986 World Cup alongside Maradona, said in October 2013, "Messi is Maradona every day. For the last five years, Messi has been the Maradona of the World Cup in Mexico." César Menotti, who as manager orchestrated their 1978 World Cup victory, echoed this sentiment when he opined that Messi plays "at the level of the best Maradona". Other notable Argentines in the sport, such as Osvaldo Ardiles, Javier Zanetti, and Diego Simeone, have expressed their belief that Messi has overtaken Maradona as the best player in history.
In Argentine society, Messi is generally held in lesser esteem than Maradona, a consequence of not only his perceived uneven performances with the national team, but also of differences in class, personality, and background. Messi is in some ways the antithesis of his predecessor: where Maradona was an extroverted, controversial character who rose to greatness from the slums, Messi is reserved and unassuming, an unremarkable man outside of football. An enduring mark against him is the fact that, although through no fault of his own, he never proved himself in the Argentine Primera División as an upcoming player, achieving stardom overseas from a young age, while his lack of outward passion for the Albiceleste shirt—he does not sing the national anthem and is disinclined to emotional displays—have in the past led to the false perception that he felt Catalan rather than truly Argentine. Despite having lived in Spain since age 13, Messi has said: "Argentina is my country, my family, my way of expressing myself. I would change all my records to make the people in my country happy." Moreover, several pundits and footballing figures, including Maradona, have also questioned Messi's leadership with Argentina at times, despite his playing ability. In November 2016, with the Argentine Football Association being run by a FIFA committee for emergency due to an economic crisis, it was reported that three of the national team's security staff told Messi that they haven't been given their salaries for six months. He stepped in and paid the salaries of the three members.
Comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo
Among his contemporary peers, Messi is most often compared and contrasted with Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, as part of an ongoing rivalry that has been compared to past sports rivalries like the Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier rivalry in boxing, the Björn Borg–John McEnroe rivalry in tennis, and the Ayrton Senna–Alain Prost rivalry from Formula One motor racing. Although Messi has at times denied any rivalry, they are widely believed to push one another in their aim to be the best player in the world: since 2008, both players have won five Ballons d'Or, with Messi winning six FIFA World's Best Player awards to Ronaldo's five, and six European Golden Shoes to Ronaldo's four. Pundits and fans regularly argue the individual merits of both players; beyond their playing styles, the debate also revolves around their differing physiques—Ronaldo is 1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in) with a muscular build—and contrasting public personalities, with Ronaldo's self-confidence and theatrics a foil to Messi's humility. From 2009–10 to 2017–18, Messi faced Ronaldo at least twice every season in El Clásico, which ranks among the world's most viewed annual sports events. Off the pitch, Ronaldo is his direct competitor in terms of salary, sponsorships, and social media fanbase.
In popular culture
According to France Football, Messi was the world's highest-paid footballer for five years out of six between 2009 and 2014; he was the first player to exceed the €40 million benchmark, with earnings of €41 million in 2013, and the €50–€60 million points, with income of €65 million in 2014. Messi was second on Forbes list of the world's highest-paid athletes (after Cristiano Ronaldo) with income of $81.4 million from his salary and endorsements in 2015–16. In 2018 he was the first player to exceed the €100m benchmark for a calendar year, with earnings of €126m ($154m) in combined income from salaries, bonuses and endorsements. Forbes ranked him the world's highest-paid athlete in 2019. Since 2008, he has been Barcelona's highest-paid player, receiving a salary that increased incrementally from €7.8 million to €13 million over the next five years. Signing a new Barcelona contract in 2017, he earns $667,000 per week in wages, and Barcelona also paid him $59.6 million as a signing on bonus. His buyout clause is set at $835 million (€700 million).
In addition to his salary and bonuses, much of his income derives from endorsements; SportsPro has consequently cited him as one of the world's most marketable athletes every year since their research began in 2010. His main sponsor since 2006 is the sportswear company Adidas. As Barcelona's leading youth prospect, he had been signed with Nike since age 14, but transferred to Adidas after they successfully challenged their rival's claim to his image rights in court. Over time, Messi established himself as their leading brand endorser; from 2008, he had a long-running signature collection of Adidas F50 boots, and in 2015, he became the first footballer to receive his own sub-brand of Adidas boots, the Adidas Messi. Since 2017, Messi has worn the latest version of the Adidas Nemeziz.
As a commercial entity, Messi's marketing brand has been based exclusively on his talents and achievements as a player, in contrast to arguably more glamorous players like Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. At the start of his career, he thus mainly held sponsorship contracts with companies that employ sports-oriented marketing, such as Adidas, Pepsi, and Konami. From 2010 onwards, concurrently with his increased achievements as a player, his marketing appeal widened, leading to long-term endorsement deals with luxury brands Dolce & Gabbana and Audemars Piguet. Messi is also a global brand ambassador for Gillette, Turkish Airlines, Ooredoo, and Tata Motors, among other companies. Additionally, Messi was the face of Konami's video game series Pro Evolution Soccer, appearing on the covers of PES 2009, PES 2010, PES 2011 and PES 2020. He subsequently signed with rival company EA Sports to become the face of their series FIFA and has since appeared on four consecutive covers from FIFA 13 to FIFA 16. His 'Point to the Sky' goal celebration first appears in FIFA 14.
Messi's global popularity and influence are well documented. He was among the Time 100, an annual list of the world's most influential people as published by Time, in 2011 and 2012. His fanbase on the social media website Facebook is among the largest of all public figures: within seven hours of its launch in April 2011, his Facebook page had nearly seven million followers, and by November 2013, he had become only the second sportsperson, after Cristiano Ronaldo, to amass over 50 million followers. He has over 130 million Instagram followers, the second highest for a sportsperson, after Cristiano Ronaldo. According to a 2014 survey by sports research firm Repucom in 15 international markets, Messi was familiar to 87% of respondents around the world, of whom 78% perceived him favourably, making him the second-most recognised player globally, behind Ronaldo, and the most likable of all contemporary players.
Other events have illustrated Messi's presence in popular culture. A solid gold replica of his left foot, weighing 25 kg (55 lb) and valued at $5.25 million, went on sale in Japan in March 2013 to raise funds for victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A 2013 Turkish Airlines advertisement starring Messi, in which he engages in a selfie competition with then-Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, was the most-watched ad on YouTube in the year of its release, receiving 137 million views, and was subsequently voted the best advertisement of the 2005–15 decade to commemorate YouTube's founding. World Press Photo selected "The Final Game", a photograph of Messi facing the World Cup trophy after Argentina's final defeat to Germany, as the best sports image of 2014. Messi, a documentary about his life by filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August 2014. Born in a zoo at Saransk, Mordovia, Russia in late 2015, Messi, a pet cougar who became popular on social media, was named after the player.
Family and relationships
Since 2008, Messi has been in a relationship with Antonella Roccuzzo, a fellow native of Rosario. He has known Roccuzzo since he was five years old, as she is the cousin of his best friend since childhood, Lucas Scaglia, who is also a football player. After keeping their relationship private for a year, Messi first confirmed their romance in an interview in January 2009, before going public a month later during a carnival in Sitges after the Barcelona–Espanyol derby.
—Endocrinologist Dr. Diego Schwarzstein addressed Messi's growth hormone deficiency from 1997 to 2001. According to Bleacher Report's Richard Fitzpatrick, "Schwarzstein and Messi built up a close relationship during more than four years of treatment."
Messi and Roccuzzo have three sons: Thiago (born 2012), Mateo (born 2015) and Ciro (born 2018). To celebrate his partner's first pregnancy, Messi placed the ball under his shirt after scoring in Argentina's 4–0 win against Ecuador on 2 June 2012, before confirming the pregnancy in an interview two weeks later. Thiago was born in Barcelona on 2 November 2012, with Messi attending the birth after being given permission by Barcelona to miss training. He announced his son's arrival on his Facebook page, writing, "Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!" Thiago's name and handprints are tattooed on his left calf. In April 2015, Messi confirmed on Facebook that they were expecting another child. He missed training ahead of a match against Atlético Madrid to attend the birth of his second son, Mateo, on 11 September 2015 in Barcelona. On 30 June 2017, he married Roccuzzo at a luxury hotel named Hotel City Center in Rosario with about 260 guests attending his wedding. On 15 October 2017, his wife announced they were expecting their third child in an Instagram post, with the words "Family of 5". On 10 March 2018, Messi skipped the match against Málaga after Ciro was born.
Messi enjoys a close relationship with his immediate family members, particularly his mother, Celia, whose face he has tattooed on his left shoulder. His professional affairs are largely run as a family business: his father, Jorge, has been his agent since he was 14, and his oldest brother, Rodrigo, handles his daily schedule and publicity. His mother and other brother, Matías, manage his charitable organisation, the Leo Messi Foundation, and take care of personal and professional matters in Rosario.
Since leaving for Spain at age 13, Messi has maintained close ties to his hometown of Rosario, even preserving his distinct Rosarino accent. He has kept ownership of his family's old house, although it has long stood empty; he maintains a penthouse apartment in an exclusive residential building for his mother, as well as a family compound just outside the city. Once when he was in training with the national team in Buenos Aires, he made a three-hour trip by car to Rosario immediately after practice to have dinner with his family, spent the night with them, and returned to Buenos Aires the next day in time for practice. Messi keeps in daily contact via phone and text with a small group of confidants in Rosario, most of whom were fellow members of "The Machine of '87" at Newell's Old Boys. He currently lives in Castelldefels, a village near Barcelona. Although considered a one-club man, he has long planned to return to Rosario to end his playing career at Newell's. He was on bad terms with the club after his transfer to Barcelona, but by 2012 their public feud had ended, with Newell's embracing their ties with Messi, even issuing a club membership card to his newborn son.
Throughout his career, Messi has been involved in charitable efforts aimed at vulnerable children, a commitment that stems in part from the medical difficulties he faced in his own childhood. Since 2004, he has contributed his time and finances to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), an organisation with which Barcelona also have a strong association. Messi has served as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador since his appointment in March 2010, completing his first field mission for the organisation four months later as he travelled to Haiti to bring public awareness to the plight of the country's children in the wake of the recent earthquake. He has since participated in UNICEF campaigns targeting HIV prevention, education, and the social inclusion of disabled children. To celebrate his son's first birthday, in November 2013, Messi and Thiago were part of a publicity campaign to raise awareness of mortality rates among disadvantaged children.
In addition to his work with UNICEF, Messi founded his own charitable organisation, the Leo Messi Foundation, which supports access to health care, education, and sport for children. It was established in 2007 following a visit Messi paid to a hospital for terminally ill children in Boston, an experience that resonated with him to the point that he decided to reinvest part of his earnings into society. Through his foundation, Messi has awarded research grants, financed medical training, and invested in the development of medical centres and projects in Argentina, Spain, and elsewhere in the world. In addition to his own fundraising activities, such as his global "Messi and Friends" football matches, his foundation receives financial support from various companies to which he has assigned his name in endorsement agreements, with Adidas as their main sponsor.
Messi has also invested in youth football in Argentina: he financially supports Sarmiento, a football club based in the Rosario neighbourhood where he was born, committing in 2013 to the refurbishment of their facilities and the installation of all-weather pitches, and funds the management of several youth players at Newell's Old Boys and rival club Rosario Central, as well as at River Plate and Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires. At Newell's Old Boys, his boyhood club, he funded the 2012 construction of a new gymnasium and a dormitory inside the club's stadium for their youth academy. His former youth coach at Newell's, Ernesto Vecchio, is employed by the Leo Messi Foundation as a talent scout for young players. On 7 June 2016, Messi won a libel case against La Razón newspaper and was awarded €65,000 in damages, which he donated to the charity Médecins Sans Frontières.
Messi's financial affairs came under investigation in 2013 for suspected tax evasion. Offshore companies in tax havens Uruguay and Belize were used to evade €4.1 million in taxes related to sponsorship earnings between 2007 and 2009. An unrelated shell company in Panama, set up in 2012, was subsequently identified as belonging to the Messis in the Panama Papers data leak. Messi, who pleaded ignorance of the alleged scheme, voluntarily paid arrears of €5.1 million in August 2013. On 6 July 2016, Messi and his father were both found guilty of tax fraud and were handed suspended 21-month prison sentences and respectively ordered to pay €1.7 million and €1.4 million in fines. Facing the judge, he said, "I just played football. I signed the contracts because I trusted my dad and the lawyers and we had decided that they would take charge of those things."
- As of match played 9 November 2019
|Club||Season||League||Copa del Rey||Champions League||Other||Total|
|Barcelona C||2003–04||Tercera División||10||5||—||—||—||10||5|
|Barcelona B||2003–04||Segunda División B||5||0||—||—||—||5||0|
|2004–05||Segunda División B||17||6||—||—||—||17||6|
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, two appearances in Supercopa de España
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, one appearance and two goals in Supercopa de España, two appearances and two goals in FIFA Club World Cup
- Appearance(s) in Supercopa de España
- One appearance and one goal in UEFA Super Cup, two appearances and three goals in Supercopa de España, two appearances and two goals in FIFA Club World Cup
- One appearance and two goals in UEFA Super Cup, two appearances and one goal in Supercopa de España, one appearance and one goal in FIFA Club World Cup
- As of 18 November 2019
- Nine appearances and five goals in the 2005 South American U-20 Championship, seven appearances and six goals in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship
- Appearances in Summer Olympics
- Appearances in FIFA World Cup qualification
- Appearances in FIFA World Cup
- Six appearances and two goals in Copa América, four appearances and two goals in FIFA World Cup qualification
- Four appearances in Copa América, four appearances and two goals in FIFA World Cup qualification
- Appearances in Copa América
- Five appearances and three goals in FIFA World Cup qualification, five appearances and five goals in Copa América Centenario
Honours and achievements
- La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19
- Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18
- Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018
- UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
- UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
- FIFA Ballon d'Or/Ballon d'Or: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015
- FIFA World Player of the Year: 2009
- The Best FIFA Men's Player: 2019
- European Golden Shoe: 2009–10, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19
- FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 2014
- Copa América Golden Ball: 2015
- UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award: 2011, 2015
- UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2009
- UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2009, 2019
- La Liga Best Player: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2017–18, 2018–19
- La Liga Best Forward: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16
- FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball: 2009, 2011
- Pichichi Trophy: 2009–10, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19
- FIFA Club World Cup Silver Ball: 2015
- FIFA Club World Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 2009, 2011
- FIFA World Youth Championship Golden Ball: 2005
- FIFA World Youth Championship Golden Shoe: 2005
- Olimpia de Plata (Argentine Footballer of the Year): 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
- Copa América Best Young Player: 2007
- FIFPro Young World Player of the Year: 2006, 2007, 2008
- Golden Boy (Young European Footballer of the Year): 2005
- FIFA FIFPro World11: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
- UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year
- La Liga Team of the Season: 2014–15, 2015–16
- FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2014
- Copa América Dream Team: 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016
- AFA Team of All Time (published 2015)
- List of one-club men in association football
- List of men's footballers with 50 or more international goals
- List of footballers with 100 or more caps
- Football records and statistics in Spain
- UEFA club competition records and statistics
- FIFA World Cup awards
- L'Équipe Champion of Champions
- In isolation, Andrés is pronounced [anˈdɾes].
- According to his club's official website, FCBarcelona.com, and his authorised biography, Messi by Guillem Balagué, his surname is the single "Messi", in accordance with Argentine customs. Other sources, including a 2014 document by FIFA, give his surname as the double "Messi Cuccittini". After winning a libel case in 2017, Messi's own management company stated: "The football player Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini has donated a total of €72,783.20 to the organisation Doctors Without Borders."
- In addition to four FIFA Ballons d'Or, Messi received France Football's Ballon d'Or and FIFA's World Player of the Year award in 2009 prior to their incorporation; both organisations credit him with five (FIFA) Ballons d'Or. In 2019 he received a sixth world player award, winning the Best FIFA Men's Player.
- Since surpassed by Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi is the second-highest goalscorer in the European Cup/Champions League as of June 2019.
- Assist statistics began in 1990.
- Marsden, Sam (2 November 2017). "Messi donates to charity after libel case win". ESPN. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
- "2018 FIFA World Cup Russia: List of players: Argentina" (PDF). FIFA. 15 July 2018. p. 1. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
- "Profile: Lionel Andrés Messi". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "La selección catalana pierde ante Argentina (0-1) en un partido marcado por la política". El Mundo (in Spanish). 24 May 2008. Archived from the original on 27 May 2008.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 32–37.
- "2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil: List of Players" (PDF). FIFA. 10 June 2014. p. 2. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Lacombe, Rémy (11 January 2016). "Messi, le Cinquième Élément". France Football. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- "Messi, Lloyd, Luis Enrique and Ellis Triumph at FIFA Ballon d'Or 2015". FIFA. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- Caioli 2012, pp. 9–10.
- Carlin, John (27 March 2010). "Lionel Messi: Magic in His Feet". The Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 44–45.
- Maume, Chris (11 July 2014). "Lionel Messi: The World at His Feet". The Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Caioli 2012, p. 38.
- Thompson, Wright (22 October 2012). "Here and Gone: The Strange Relationship between Lionel Messi and His Hometown in Argentina". Outside the Lines. ESPN FC. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Caioli 2012, pp. 31–35.
- Cazadieu, Jérôme; Juillard, Alexandre; Traïni, Frédéric (15 November 2008). "Leo Messi: La Légende d'El Enano" [Leo Messi: The Legend of El Enano]. L'Équipe via Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Hawkey, Ian (20 April 2008). "Lionel Messi on a Mission". The Times (subscription required). Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Wilson, Paul (16 July 2015). "Pablo Aimar: The Argentinian Wizard Admired by Maradona and Messi". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- "Messi: Brazil striker Ronaldo my hero". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
- Lowe, Sid (15 October 2014). "Lionel Messi: How Argentinian Teenager Signed for Barcelona on a Serviette". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Longman, Jeré (21 May 2011). "Lionel Messi: Boy Genius". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Caioli 2012, pp. 61–62.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 149.
- Jenson, Pete (27 March 2010). "Fàbregas, Messi, Piqué: Class of 2002". The Independent. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Hunter 2012, pp. 44–45.
- "Lionel Messi Could Have Joined Arsenal as a Teenager, Says Arsène Wenger". The Guardian. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- "The New Messiah". FIFA. 5 March 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
- Corrigan, Dermot (16 October 2014). "The best quotes about Lionel Messi's 10 years at Barcelona". ESPN FC.
- Caioli 2012, pp. 68–71.
- Bird, Liviu (5 June 2015). "Ex-Teammate, La Masia Coach Recall Lionel Messi's Early Days, Persona". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Giuly remembers the first time he saw Messi 'kill' his team-mates". Sport. 14 September 2016.
- Corrigan, Dermot (15 November 2013). "Messi Reflects on Debut 10 Years On". ESPN FC. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 191–193.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 246–249.
- Hunter 2012, p. 53.
- Carbonell, Rafael (26 October 2004). "El Último Salto de la 'Pulga'" [The Last Jump of the 'Flea']. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 183–185.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 262–263.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2003–04". BDFutbol. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2004–05". BDFutbol. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Hunter 2012, pp. 35–36.
- Reng, Ronald (27 May 2011). "Lionel Messi". FT Magazine. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Mitten, Andy (16 October 2014). "Who Knew on His 2004 Debut That Lionel Messi Would Go so Far at Barcelona". The National. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Williams, Richard (24 February 2006). "Messi Has All the Qualities to Take World by Storm". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Hunter, Graham (4 June 2015). "Messi, Iniesta and Xavi Driven to Join the Champions League Elite". ESPN FC. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Hunter 2012, pp. 264–265.
- Lowe, Sid (16 June 2017). "Joan Laporta: 'Barcelona has been kidnapped. It's hostage to lies and it's sad'". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 272–276.
- "Starlet Messi Stays at Barça until 2014". ESPN FC. 17 September 2005. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- Caioli 2012, p. 91.
- Hunter 2012, pp. 266–269.
- "Messi Has Ronaldinho's Number". FIFA. 4 August 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 279–284.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2005–06". BDFutbol. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Ingla: Rijkaard to Blame for Barça Decline". ESPN FC. 19 May 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Messi: I'm Not the Best". FIFA. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2006–07". BDFutbol. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Messi Needs Surgery on Broken Foot". CNN. 13 November 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Hunter, Graham (19 October 2011). "Messi Closing in on Remarkable Record". ESPN FC. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Tomkins 2007, pp. 130–132.
- Lowe, Sid (12 March 2007). "There's Something about Messi". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, p. 302.
- Davies, Christopher (24 February 2006). "Maradona Hails His Successor". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (20 April 2007). "The Greatest Goal Ever?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Mitten, Andy (10 June 2007). "Hand of Messi Saves Barcelona". The Times (subscription required). Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Dónde Está Messi? Ahora Dónde Está Messi?" ['Where Is Messi? Where Is Messi Now?']. El Mundo (in Spanish). 11 May 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Beckham Bows out with Liga Title". BBC Sport. 17 June 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (24 September 2007). "Ronaldinho Misses Barcelona's Big Night Out". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Carlin, John (3 February 2008). "Nou Sensation". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 519–524.
- "Kaka Named FIFA World Player of the Year". ESPN FC. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2007–08". BDFutbol. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Bright, Richard (6 March 2008). "Lionel Messi Sidelined for Six Weeks". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- O'Henley, Alex (21 February 2008). "Two for Messi as Barça See off Celtic". UEFA. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- "Ronaldinho Cleared for Barça Exit". BBC Sport. 19 May 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, p. 472.
- Heydari, Keyvan Antonio (26 May 2009). "Messi: Amazing Talent in a Reluctant Star". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Barnett, Phil (1 December 2009). "Lionel Messi: A Rare Talent". The Independent. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Jackson, Jamie (12 January 2009). "Ronaldo Adds Fifa World Player of the Year to List of Accolades". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2008–09". BDFutbol. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Roden, Lee (20 April 2015). "Are Messi, Suarez and Neymar Barcelona's Best-Ever Front Three?". ESPN FC. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 453–459.
- "Real Madrid v Barcelona: Six of the Best 'El Clásicos'". The Daily Telegraph. 9 December 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Barcelona Defeat Athletic Bilbao to Win Copa del Rey". The Daily Telegraph. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Barcelona's Title Celebrations Marred by Violence". The Daily Telegraph. 17 May 2009. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
- "Messi Sweeps up Goalscoring Honours". UEFA. 28 May 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- McNulty, Phil (27 May 2009). "Barcelona 2–0 Man Utd". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- Seery, Phil (31 May 2009). "Barcelona Eclipse Dream Team with Historic Treble". Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
- Adams, Tom (21 May 2010). "The Treble Club". ESPN FC. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- "Barcelona Beat Estudiantes to Win the Club World Cup". BBC Sport. 19 December 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- Stuart, Keith (7 April 2010). "Is the Real Lionel Messi Better than the Virtual One?". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 476–478.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2009–10". BDFutbol. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (17 May 2010). "La Liga Title the Least Barcelona Deserve as Madrid Again Finish Empty Handed". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Barcelona's Lionel Messi the Sixth Player to Score Four Times in Champions League Tie". The Daily Telegraph. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (7 April 2010). "'Mythical, Universal, the Lord's Anointed One' – Spain Hails Leo Messi". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- Haslam, Andrew (22 May 2010). "Messi Takes Scoring Plaudits". UEFA. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- Wilson, Joseph (30 September 2010). "Messi Receives Golden Boot for Top European Scorer". U-T San Diego. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Magic Messi Wins Supercopa for Barça". ESPN FC. 21 August 2010. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- Lowe, Sid (29 November 2010). "David Villa Strikes Twice as Slick Barcelona Thrash Real Madrid". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Stars as Barcelona Seal Record League Win". BBC Sport. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Most Consecutive Wins in the Top Division of Spanish football (Soccer)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (11 January 2011). "Lionel Messi Is the World's Best Player but Xavi Deserved FIFA's Award". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Ronaldo's overhead kick and five other classic UCL goals". UEFA.com. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
- Lowe, Sid (5 May 2011). "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in the Aftermatch of the Clásico Series". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 8 May 2011.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 494–499.
- "Top Scorer Messi Matches Van Nistelrooy Mark". UEFA. 28 May 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- McNulty, Phil (28 May 2011). "Barcelona 3–1 Man Utd". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2010–11". BDFutbol. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Spanish Primera División Statistics: Top Assists 2010–11". ESPN FC. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- Cascarino, Tony; Barclay, Patrick (27 May 2011). "Is Sublime Lionel Messi the Greatest Footballer Ever?". The Times (subscription required). Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Professional Soccer Training Drills – Lionel Messi a Combination". Project Sports Mastery. 11 January 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- Balagué 2013, p. 512.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2011–12". BDFutbol. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Mohamed, Majid (10 December 2012). "Lionel Messi: The Best Goalscorer Ever but Is the Barcelona Player the Greatest-Ever Footballer?". The Independent. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Tempers Flare into Brawl as Barcelona Beats Real Madrid". USA Today. 17 August 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Winter, Henry (26 August 2011). "Barcelona 2 Porto 0: Match Report". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Barcelona Win FIFA Club World Cup". BBC Sport. 18 December 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Messi Crowned World's Best". ESPN FC. 9 January 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Messi Wins UEFA Best Player in Europe Award". UEFA. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Hayward, Paul (7 January 2013). "FIFA Ballon d'Or 2012: Lionel Messi Rewarded for Displays No Rival Could Ever Match". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Lionel Messi as Dominant as Michael Jordan, Claims Barcelona's Pep Guardiola, After He Breaks Goal Record". The Daily Telegraph. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Messi Scores Four as Barcelona Rout Valencia". CNN. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Rostance, Tom (7 March 2012). "Lionel Messi Scores Five in Barcelona Champions League Win". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "UEFA Champions League 2011–12: Statistics". UEFA. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Record-Breaking Messi Takes Top Scorer Honour". UEFA. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Brassell, Andy (27 April 2012). "Pep Guardiola Leaves Lasting Legacy at Barcelona". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Pep Guardiola's Final Game: Barcelona Win Copa del Rey". BBC Sport. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Dawkes, Phil (24 April 2012). "Barcelona 2–2 Chelsea (agg 2–3)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Four-Goal Lionel Messi Gives Pep Guardiola Perfect Barcelona Send-Off". The Guardian. 5 May 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Receives Golden Boot Award as Europe's Top Scorer". Sports Illustrated. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- "Messi Smashes Müller's 40-Year Record". ESPN FC. 9 December 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
- Hughes, Rob (29 April 2014). "To See Coach's Legacy at Barcelona, Just Look on Field". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Ten-Man Barcelona Shocked by Sociedad". CNN. 19 January 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Rogers, Iain (10 December 2012). "Fatherhood Hasn't Slowed Record-Breaking Messi". Reuters. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Mueller Gets Messi's No. 10 Barcelona Shirt". Sports Illustrated. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Mohamed, Majid (8 January 2013). "Barcelona's Lionel Messi Becomes Most Decorated Player in History after Winning Unprecedented Fourth Straight Ballon d'Or". The Independent. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "FIFA Refuses to Back Lionel Messi or Godfrey Chitalu for Goal Record". BBC Sport. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Barcelona Star Lionel Messi Sets New Goal-Scoring Record". Guinness World Records. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Chowdhury, Saj (9 January 2013). "Ballon d'Or Contenders Messi, Ronaldo and Iniesta in Profile". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (13 May 2013). "A Sense of Anticlimax but Barcelona Still Deserve Their La Liga Title". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Monaghan, Matt (12 March 2013). "Barcelona 4–0 AC Milan (agg 4–2)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, p. 556.
- "Messi Signs New Barcelona Deal". CNN. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Rogers, Iain (11 May 2013). "Captain Messi Inspires Another Barça League Triumph". Reuters. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Caioli 2015, ch. 38.
- Rogers, Iain (11 April 2013). "Andrés Iniesta Admission That Barcelona Suffer from 'Messi-Dependence' Proved against PSG". The Independent. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (11 April 2013). "Messidependencia Brought into Focus as Barcelona Show Vulnerability". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- De Menezes, Jack (14 November 2013). "Rumours of Lionel Messi Rift with Barcelona Rubbished Be Representatives of the Argentina International". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Messi Worry Mars Barca's Title Joy". CNN. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Messi 'Breaks Record' by Scoring in 17th Consecutive La Liga Game". BBC Sport. 10 March 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Awarded Golden Shoe for Third Time after 46 La Liga Goals for Barcelona". The Independent. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2012–13". BDFutbol. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 587–592.
- "Lionel Messi Returns from Injury in Barcelona Victory". CNN. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Cristiano Ronaldo Wins FIFA Ballon D'or after Stellar Year at Real Madrid". The Guardian. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- West, Andy (22 March 2014). "Real Madrid v Barcelona: Has Ronaldo Overtaken Messi?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (12 March 2014). "One Flick of Lionel Messi's Left Foot Ends Talk of Crisis at Barcelona". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Jenson, Pete (24 March 2014). "Real Madrid 3 Barcelona 4 Match Report: Lionel Messi Hat-Trick Out-Guns Cristiano Ronaldo in Seven-Goal El Clásico Thriller". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2013–14". BDFutbol. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Barcelona's Lionel Messi: I Had a Lot of Problems during 2013–14 Season". ESPN FC. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Notarianni, Roberto (25 March 2015). "Messi, la (Très) Bonne Paie" [Messi, the (Very) Good Payroll]. France Football. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Corrigan, Dermot. "Gerardo Martino: Lionel Messi Feeling Mental, Physical Strain of Years at Top". ESPN FC. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi: Barcelona Forward Will Leave 'Unreachable' Record". BBC Sport. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Besa, Ramon (7 December 2014). "El Derbi Es un Monólogo de Messi" [The Derby Is a Monologue of Messi]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- "Cristiano Ronaldo Wins Ballon D'or for Second Straight Year". ESPN FC. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
- Roden, Lee (8 January 2015). "Barcelona, Messi and Enrique: What's Gone Wrong?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (18 May 2015). "Barcelona Transform Their Season from Trouble to a Possible Treble". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- West, Andy (19 March 2015). "Motivated Lionel Messi Transforms Barcelona's Hopes for Trophy Treble". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (8 May 2015). "Messi's Best-Ever Form?". ESPN FC. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Tomas, Francesc (22 April 2015). "Barcelona Increasingly Gaining Messi Independence (and It's a Good Thing)". ESPN FC. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Lowe, Sid (6 June 2015). "Barcelona's Luis Suárez, Leo Messi and Neymar Too Good for Juventus". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Is 'an Alien That Dedicates Himself to Playing with Humans' Says Gianluigi Buffon". The Guardian. 2 June 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Rice, Simon (17 May 2015). "Barcelona Win La Liga: Lionel Messi Strike Sees Barca Clinch 23rd Title at Home of Reigning Champions Atletico Madrid". The Independent. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "Supporters, Superstars and Goals Galore". FIFA. 11 March 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "Spanish Primera División Statistics: Top Assists 2014–15". ESPN FC. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "Messi También Es Leyenda en el Ranking Histórico de Asistencias" [Messi Is Also a Legend in the Historical Assist Ranking] (in Spanish). La Liga BBVA. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Corrigan, Dermot (15 February 2015). "Messi Notches Assist Record". ESPN FC. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Corrigan, Dermot (30 May 2015). "Treble Comes into Focus as Messi Marches Barcelona to Copa Title". ESPN FC. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Newman, Blair (7 May 2015). "If Lionel Messi Makes Pep Guardiola Feel Helpless, What Chance Do the Rest Have?". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Rice, Simon (7 December 2015). "Lionel Messi, Manchester United and Arsenal: The 10 Most Tweeted Sporting Moments of 2015". The Independent. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Chavez, Christopher (27 August 2015). "Messi's Goal vs. Bayern Voted Europe's Best in 2014–15". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- Jurejko, Jonathan (12 May 2015). "Bayern Mun 3–2 Barcelona". BBC Sport. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Borden, Sam (6 June 2015). "Barcelona Overwhelms Juventus to Win Fifth Champions League Title". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "UEFA Champions League 2014–15: Statistics". UEFA. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Hannah, Ralph (5 June 2015). "The Ultimate Record-Breaking Preview to the UEFA Champions League Final". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Gonzalez, Roger (27 August 2015). "Messi Beats Ronaldo for 2014–15 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award". CBS Sports. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Says Free Kick Goals in UEFA Super Cup Were 'Lucky'". ESPN FC. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- Molinaro, John (16 September 2015). "Florenzi's goal vs. Barca one for the ages". Sports Net. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Rose, Gary (21 November 2015). "Real Madrid 0 – Barcelona 4". BBC Sport.com. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Corrigan, Dermot (20 December 2015). "Lionel Messi: Club World Cup triumph proves Barcelona are 'best in the world'". ESPN FC. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Toll, Michael (30 December 2015). "FC Barcelona claim 4–0 victory over Betis and top spot to end 2015". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- Corrigon, Dermot (12 January 2016). "Lionel Messi wins 2015 Ballon d'Or ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar".
- Bieler, Des (3 February 2016). "Lionel Messi's 500th goal shows off scintillating skill". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
- "Barcelona penalty: Was it disrespectful or a touch of genius?". BBC Sport. 15 February 2016.
- "Messi, Suarez team up for audacious penalty kick". Fox News Channel. 14 February 2016.
- "Leo Messi breaks the 300 goal barrier in the league". FC Barcelona. 18 February 2016.
- "Barça reach 10,000 goals in official competition". FC Barcelona. 23 February 2016.
- "Messi scores 500th goal: Barcelona star nets milestone". Sports Illustrated. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
- "Messi sirve el doblete" [Messi hands out double]. Marca (in Spanish). Spain. 22 May 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
- Güell, Robert (23 May 2016). "Messi, Suárez and Neymar Jr end season with 131 goals". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
- Marsden, Samuel (17 February 2017). "Lionel Messi is bigger than Barcelona and indispensable – Javier Mascherano". ESPN FC. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
- Besa, Ramon (18 August 2016). "Messi levanta la Supercopa" [Messi lifts the Supercup]. El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- Bell, Arch (15 August 2016). "Barça tame Sevilla in Super Cup". Marca. Spain. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Barca seal Supercopa de Espana". Football España. 17 August 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
- "Luis Suarez plunders hat-trick, Lionel Messi scores twice as Barca smash six past Betis". 20 August 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
- "Leo Messi out for three weeks | FC Barcelona". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
- "Lionel Messi Scores in His Return as Barcelona Roll Past Deportivo La Coruña". beIN SPorts. 15 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
- Wilkinson, Jack (20 October 2016). "Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick as 10-man Manchester City lost 4–0 on Pep Guardiola's return to Barcelona in the Champions League". Sky Sports. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
- Dowd, Alex (1 November 2016). "Watch Lionel Messi score to pass Raul for most goals in the UCL group stage". Fox Sports. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- Gonzalez, Roger (31 December 2016). "Top goal scorers in 2016: Messi claims crown, Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo follow". CBS Sports. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
- "Cristiano Ronaldo wins Best FIFA Men's Player 2016 award". CNN. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- "Lionel Messi equals Ronald Koeman's Barcelona free-kick record". ESPN FC. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Murray, Caitlin (14 January 2017). "Watch Lionel Messi match record for the most La Liga teams scored against". Fox Sports. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- Green, Paul (4 February 2017). "Lionel Messi embarrasses Gorka Iraizoz with free-kick for Barcelona". Sky Sports. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
- "Lionel Messi scores 500th goal for Barcelona against Real Madrid". ESPN FC. 23 April 2017. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
- "Real Madrid-Barcelona: Celebrations in enemy territory". Marca. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
- "Lionel Messi inspires Barcelona to Copa del Rey final triumph against Alavés". The Guardian. 27 May 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
- "Messi receives fourth Golden Shoe Award: Each day I enjoy it more". Marca. Spain. 24 November 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
- "Ronaldo goal, red card in Real Madrid win against Barcelona". ESPN FC. 14 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Leo Messi and Luis Suárez call for optimism". FC Barcelona. 14 August 2017. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Lionel Messi's hat trick guides Barcelona's win over local rivals Espanyol". ESPN FC. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
- Marsden, Samuel (12 September 2017). "Lionel Messi scores twice as Barcelona get revenge on Juventus in UCL". ESPN FC. Retrieved 13 September 2017.
- Marsden, Samuel (19 September 2017). "Lionel Messi creates something from nothing for Barcelona – Valverde". ESPN FC. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
- "Barcelona 3–0 Las Palmas: Lionel Messi nets brace in front of empty Nou Camp – 5 talking points". The Mirror. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2017.
- "Barcelona 3–1 Olympiakos". BBC Sport. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
- "Messi emulates Ronaldo with 100th European goal". UEFA. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
- Marsden, Sam (4 November 2017). "Lionel Messi marks 600th Barcelona appearance in win over Sevilla". ESPN FC. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
- "Lionel Messi signs new deal through 2020/21 season". FC Barcelona. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- "Messi breaks Muller goal record". beinsports.com. 14 January 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
- West, Andy (4 March 2018). "Barcelona 1–0 Atlético Madrid". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "Faster and younger than rival Ronaldo – Magical Messi's 100 Champions League goals in Opta numbers". FourFourTwo. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- "Lionel Messi scores 100th Champions League goal in Barcelona's 3–0 victory over Chelsea". Los Angeles Times. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
- Gimeno, Francesc J. (7 April 2018). "Lionel Messi equals the record of Ronaldinho". Sport. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- "Messi Wins Fifth Golden Shoe After Winning Pichichi Trophy". Goal. 20 May 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- "Sevilla 0–5 Barcelona". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 21 April 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
- Abrahams, Timothy (29 April 2018). "Deportivo La Coruna 2–4 Barcelona". BBC Sport. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
- "FC Barcelona 5–1 Villarreal CF: Record breakers". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- "Lionel Messi will be Barcelona's next captain". Sport. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
- "Lionel Messi scores Barcelona's 6,000th goal in La Liga". ESPN FC. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
- Marsden, Sam (19 September 2018). "Lionel Messi's eight Champions League hat tricks ranked: Which is the best?". ESPN FC. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- "Messi, out for three weeks with a fractured arm". www.fcbarcelona.com. 20 October 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
- Lowe, Sid (10 December 2018). "'His Magnum opus': even for Lionel Messi, this was special". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
- "Barcelona 3–0 Eibar". BBC Sport. 13 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
- "Messi matches Ronaldo penalty record with Valencia strike". Goal.com. 2 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
- "Lionel Messi: Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu preparing the club for life without Argentine". BBC Sport. 7 February 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
- "Sevilla 2–4 Barcelona". BBC Sport. 23 February 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
- Henry, Matthew (16 April 2019). "Barcelona 3–0 Manchester United". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
- Lowe, Sid (17 April 2019). "Lionel Messi's one-man show draws curtain on Manchester United dreams". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
- Wilson, Joseph (27 April 2019). "Messi helps Barcelona clinch Spanish league title". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
- Torres, M. Carmen (27 April 2019). "Messi adds to his numbers". Marca. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
- "Messi's first league title as captain". Marca. 28 April 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores 600th career club goal". ESPN FC. May 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
- Brand, Gerard (8 May 2019). "Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (Agg: 4-3): Liverpool complete stunning comeback to reach Champions League final". Sky Sports. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- Wilson, Joseph (19 May 2019). "Messi hits 50 goals for Barca, Madrid ends season to forget". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "Messi wins his sixth Golden Shoe award". FC Barcelona. 24 May 2019. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
- Chowdhury, Saj (25 May 2019). "Barcelona 1–2 Valencia". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Gonzalez, Roger (5 August 2019). "Lionel Messi injury: Barcelona star to miss USA tour with calf injury just ahead of La Liga season". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- Omoigui, Nosa (20 August 2019). "Fifa Puskás Award 2019: breakdown of the 10-strong shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- Llorens, Moises; Marsden, Sam (24 August 2019). "Messi ruled out vs. Betis after injury setback". ESPN FC. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- "Messi won't return until after the international break". Marca. 28 August 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- "The Best finalists unveiled in Milan". FIFA.com. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- "The FIFA Football Awards Voting Results 2019" (PDF). FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
- Grez, Matias (7 October 2019). "Leo Messi breaks another record in Barca win; Juventus ends Inter's unbeaten run". CNN. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
- "Slavia Prague 1–2 Barcelona". BBC Sport. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Messi Sets Record By Scoring In 15th Successive Champions League Season". www.beinsports.com. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- Hamdani, Adam (30 October 2019). "Lionel Messi free-kick: Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde 'out of words' after goal". The Independent. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- Ubha, Ravi (30 October 2019). "Messi eclipses Ronaldo's club goal tally after scoring twice for Barcelona". CNN. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
- "Lionel Messi equals Cristiano Ronaldo LaLiga hat-trick record". As. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
- Himmelman, Jeff (5 June 2014). "The Burden of Being Messi". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 209–219.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 220–240.
- "Magic Messi Sparks High Drama in the Lowlands". FIFA. July 2005. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Vickery, Tim (22 August 2005). "Messi Handles 'New Maradona' Tag". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Messi's Debut Dream Turns Sour". ESPN FC. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Messi Tries Again as Argentina Face Paraguay". ESPN FC. 2 September 2005. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011.
- "Messi Is a Jewel Says Argentina Coach". ESPN FC. 10 October 2005. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Mamrud, Roberto. "Lionel Andrés Messi – Century of International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Vickery, Tim (5 June 2006). "Messi Comes of Age". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Argentina 6–0 Serbia & Montenegro". BBC Sport. 16 June 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Holland 0–0 Argentina". BBC Sport. 21 June 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Lisi 2011, pp. 470–471.
- "Argentina 2–1 Mexico (aet)". BBC Sport. 24 June 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Lisi 2011, pp. 485–486.
- Lisi 2011, pp. 492–493.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 382–383.
- "Argentines Wonder Why Messi Sat Out". The New York Times. 2 July 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 384–387.
- "Argentina into Last Eight of Copa". BBC Sport. 3 July 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Tevez Nets in Argentina Victory". BBC Sport. 29 June 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Missing Some Stars, Brazil Wins Copa América". The New York Times. 16 July 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Caioli 2012, p. 156.
- Homewood, Brian (6 August 2008). "Court Blocks Messi from Olympics Soccer". Reuters. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Hunter 2012, pp. 63–64.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 436–437.
- "Report and Statistics: Men's and Women's Olympic Football Tournaments Beijing 2008" (PDF). FIFA. p. 21. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- Lisi 2011, pp. 533–539.
- Chadband, Ian (28 April 2009). "Lionel Messi Can Achieve More at Barcelona than Diego Maradona". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 155–156, 405–406.
- Smith, Rory (22 June 2010). "Greece 0 Argentina 2: Match Report". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Lisi 2011, pp. 564–567.
- "Adidas Golden Ball Nominees Announced". FIFA. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 414–420.
- Cox, Michael (13 November 2014). "Lionel Messi Showing Some Promising Signs in a New Argentina Role". ESPN FC. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 595–602.
- Hughes, Rob (10 July 2014). "If Messi Is Argentina's Star, Then Mascherano Is the Glue". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Adamson, Mike (10 December 2012). "Lionel Messi's Incredible Record-Breaking Year in Numbers". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- "FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Paraguay 2 Argentina 5". FourFourTwo. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- "2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Technical Report and Statistics" (PDF). FIFA. pp. 170–171. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Sanghera, Mandeep (15 June 2014). "Argentina 2–1 Bos-Herce". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Smyth, Rob (21 June 2014). "Argentina v Iran, World Cup 2014: Live". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Chowdhury, Saj (25 June 2014). "Nigeria 2–3 Argentina". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Jurejko, Jonathan (1 July 2014). "Argentina 1–0 Switzerland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Ferris, Ken (5 July 2014). "Argentina Beat Belgium to Reach First Semi since 1990". Reuters. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- McNulty, Phil (9 July 2014). "Netherlands 0–0 Argentina". BBC Sport. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Futterman, Matthew (11 July 2014). "The World Cup Final: The Best Team vs. the Best Player". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Murray, Scott (13 July 2014). "World Cup Final 2014: Germany v Argentina – as It Happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Bate, Adam (16 July 2014). "World Cup Final: Was Lionel Messi Really a Disappointment in Brazil or Have We Just Become Numb to His Genius?". Sky Sports. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- "World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi Golden Ball Surprised Sepp Blatter". BBC Sport. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
- "Gerardo 'Tata' Martino Appointed Argentina Coach". CNN. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Gowar, Rex; Torres, Santiago; Palmer, Justin (29 June 2015). "Messi Bemoans Scoring Difficulties at Copa América". Reuters. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- "Argentina 2–2 Paraguay". BBC Sport. 13 June 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Long, Gideon; Jimenez, Tony (21 June 2015). "Messi Wins 100th Argentina Cap". Reuters. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Wilson, Jonathan (1 July 2015). "Even Hostile Chile Fans Forced to Acknowledge Lionel Messi's Greatness". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- "Argentina Beat Colombia on Penalties to Reach Copa America Semifinal". ESPN FC. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Wilson, Jonathan (5 July 2015). "Hosts Chile Stun Argentina to Claim First Copa América Title on Penalties". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Garcia, Adriana (7 July 2015). "Argentina's Lionel Messi Grateful for Support after Copa América Defeat". ESPN FC. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Ferris, Ken (5 August 2015). "Coach: I'd Have Stopped Playing for Argentina if I Was Messi". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi leaves Argentina's friendly win vs. Honduras with back injury". ESPN FC. 27 May 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
- "Argentina top Chile in rematch of last year's Copa América final". The Guardian. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
- "Lionel Messi scores brilliant hat-trick as Argentina surge into quarter-finals". The Guardian. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
- "Match 16 : Argentina vs Panama". Copa América Centenario. 10 June 2016. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- Garcia, Adriana (13 November 2017). "Gabriel Batistuta – Lionel Messi taking my Argentina record annoyed me". ESPN. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
- "Match 27 : Argentina vs Venezuela". Copa América Centenario. 18 June 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- "Copa America: Lionel Messi equals Gabriel Batistuta's Argentina record". BBC Sport. 19 June 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
- "Lionel Messi equals Argentina's all-time goal-scoring record". ESPN FC. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- "Match 29 : United States vs Argentina". Copa América Centenario. 21 June 2016. Archived from the original on 18 June 2016. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
- "Lionel Messi retires from Argentina after Copa America final loss to Chile". ESPN FC. 27 June 2016.
- "Devastated Messi announces likely retirement from Argentina". CNN. 27 June 2016.
- "Lionel Messi says his Argentina career is over after Copa América final defeat". The Guardian. 26 June 2016.
- "CONMEBOL – stats".
- "Copa América 2016: Awards". Copa America Organisation. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- "Argentina don't want Messi to retire". Sky Sports. 28 June 2016.
- "Messi 'God's gift' to Argentina – president". AS. 28 June 2016.
- "Inauguran en Buenos Aires una estatua en homenaje a Messi". El Mundo Deportivo (Spanish). 28 June 2016.
- "Fans, President, Maradona Want Messi to Reconsider". The New York Times. 27 June 2016. Archived from the original on 6 July 2016.
- "Macri, Maradona and the Argentine people rally together to prompt Messi U-turn". Sport. 28 June 2016.
- "Lionel Messi: Argentina striker reverses decision to retire from national team". 12 August 2016.
- Gonzalez, Roger (3 July 2016). "La Nacion claims to know that Lionel Messi will return to Argentina national team". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
- "Lionel Messi to make Argentina return after brief international retirement". ESPN FC. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
- "Messi strikes back as Argentina sink Uruguay". beIN SPORTS. 1 September 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- "Lionel Messi suspended for four matches". FIFA. 28 March 2017.
- "Lionel Messi: Barcelona and Argentina forward banned for 'insulting' assistant ref". BBC Sport. 28 March 2017.
- FIFA.com (5 May 2017). "FIFA Appeal Committee passes decision on Lionel Messi". FIFA. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
- "Lionel Messi hat-trick secures Argentina's passage to World Cup". The Guardian. 11 October 2017.
- "Argentina: World Cup squad is the 'worst in their history' says Ossie Ardiles". BBC. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
- "Spain 6–1 Argentina". BBC Sport. 22 June 2018.
- "Messi: 'Now or Never' for His Argentina Generation to Win World Cup". Sports Illustrated. 1 July 2018.
- Carlisle, Jeff (15 June 2018). "Lionel Messi: Argentina's results will decide if this is my last World Cup". ESPN FC. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Bevan, Chris (16 June 2018). "Argentina 1–1 Iceland". BBC Sport. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
- "World Cup 2018: Argentina 'cloud Lionel Messi's brilliance', says coach Jorge Sampaoli". BBC. 22 June 2018.
- "Luka Modric defends Messi: 'He can't do everything by himself'". Tribuna. 22 June 2018.
- Das, Andrew (26 June 2018). "Relief for Argentina and Lionel Messi After World Cup Thriller". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- "'The boy is back in town' – stunning Messi goal gives Argentina lead". BBC. 26 June 2018.
- "Hyundai Goal of the Tournament". FIFA.com. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
- Skelton, Jack (26 June 2018). "Nigeria 1 – 2 Argentina". BBC.
- Begley, Emlyn (30 June 2018). "France 4–3 Argentina". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- "Messi, Ronaldo bow out in dramatic knockout openers". FIFA.com. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- Skiver, Kevin (1 July 2018). "Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi at the 2018 World Cup: Argentina and Portugal eliminated". www.cbssports.com. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- "Lionel Messi unlikely for Argentina duties for rest of year – sources". ESPN FC. 14 August 2018. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
- "Lionel Messi returns to Argentina squad for first time since World Cup". The Guardian. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
- "Argentina 1–3 Venezuela". BBC Sport. 22 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- Creditor, Avi (21 May 2019). "Messi Leads Argentina's Copa America Squad; Icardi Omitted". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
- "Argentina draws with Paraguay 1-1 in Copa America". The Washington Post. 19 June 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- "Messi admits not playing well for Argentina at Copa America". TSN. 28 June 2019. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- "Messi blasts 'bulls***' refereeing". www.beinsports.com. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- Vickery, Tim (6 July 2019). "Messi's red card overshadows Argentina's encouraging win and Chile's end of an era". ESPN FC. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- "Angry Messi cites 'corruption' after Copa red card". ESPN FC. 7 July 2019. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- "Messi gets WC qualifier ban for Copa red card". ESPN FC. 23 July 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
- "Suspensión y multa para Lionel Messi | CONMEBOL". www.conmebol.com (in Spanish). 2 August 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
- Schnibben, Cordt (6 June 2012). "The Golden Yell: Ronaldo and Messi Battle to Define a Football Era". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Ritter, Karl (12 July 2014). "Five Reasons Why Messi Stands out in Soccer World". Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Messi, goals for 2010". Mundo Deportivo (Spanish). 7 December 2009.
- "Lionel Messi becomes the 'Atomic Flea'". Goal (Spanish). 20 September 2012.
- "Messi, The Atomic Flea who became the best in the world". AS (Spanish). 28 January 2016.
- Garside, Kevin (29 March 2010). "Arsenal v Barcelona: Lionel Messi Making Case for World's Greatest Ever Player". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Brown, Lucas (30 September 2005). "Lionel Messi – the New Maradona?". UEFA. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Balagué 2013, p. 553.
- Monti, Fabio (8 April 2010). "Controllo, Corsa, Tocco di Palla: Perché nel Calcio Piccolo è Bello" [Control, Stroke and Touch on the Ball: Because in Football Small Is Beautiful]. Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Tomas, Francesc (25 June 2015). "Six Reasons Why Lionel Messi Is the World's Best". ESPN FC. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Jiménez, Juan (12 March 2016). "The one record Messi's ashamed of: 7 missed penalties". as.com. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Fitzpatrick, Richard (13 March 2018). "Why Leo Messi Is so Good at Free Kicks but so Average at Penalties". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- McTear, Euan (23 January 2018). "Why doesn't Messi's genius translate to the penalty spot?". Tifo Football. Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
- Matchett, Karl (6 February 2017). "Where Does Lionel Messi Rank Among the Greatest Free-Kick Takers of All Time?". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
- Davis, Scott (6 June 2015). "Here's what makes Lionel Messi so impossible to defend". Business Insider. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- Ronay, Barney (7 May 2015). "Lionel Messi: the genius who operates to a different set of physical rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- Tweedale, Alistair (21 May 2016). "How Luis Suarez moved Lionel Messi onto Barcelona's wing and became the best centre-forward on the planet". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Martin, Richard (19 April 2015). "In focus: Messi's changing role". UEFA. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Balague, Guillem; Wright, Nick; Smith, Adam (30 October 2017). "Barcelona's improvement under Ernesto Valverde examined". Sky Sports. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Siregar, Cady (7 March 2018). "Barcelona top-scorer Lionel Messi explains how has role has developed under Valverde". www.squawka.com. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- Butt, Muhammad (12 August 2018). "Dembele is going nowhere: Five things learned from Barcelona's Super Cup win v Sevilla". www.squawka.com. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- "Valverde returns Messi to the False 9 role". Marca. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- Sanz, Sergi (11 November 2017). "Valverde recycles Messi". Marca. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
- Chandler, Michael J. (6 January 2018). "3 ways Barcelona could line up with Coutinho". The Score. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Clarke, Tom (19 February 2018). "Dissected: How the new Barcelona play – and why there's hope for Chelsea". The Times. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Haugstad, Thore (28 July 2017). "FourFourTwo's 100 Greatest Footballers EVER: No.2, Lionel Messi". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
- Rangarajan, Aditya (6 December 2018). "Lionel Messi misses out on World's best Playmaker 2018 title, finishes second to Real Madrid star". www.foxsportsasia.com. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
- Hayward, Ben (23 October 2012). "How Messi went from injury-prone teenager to bionic man". Goal.com. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- Mazur, Martin (18 June 2016). "Argentina's great tactical dilemma: where should Lionel Messi play?". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
- "Maradona Hails Messi as Successor". BBC Sport. 24 February 2006. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Ball, Phil (23 February 2006). "Britain v Spain (Sort Of)". ESPN FC. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Minshull, Phil (30 March 2010). "Is Messi the Greatest Ever?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Messi Es el Mejor Jugador que Veré Jamás" ['Messi Is the Best Player I Have Ever Seen']. El Mundo (in Spanish). 29 August 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi: Is the Barcelona and Argentina Star the Greatest Player Ever?". The Daily Telegraph. 29 May 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Magical Messi Grabs Hat-trick in Copa America as Argentina Romp into Quarters". The Daily Telegraph. Agence France-Presse. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
Widely regarded as the best footballer of all time, Lionel Messi ... has sublime balance and is able to dribble past defenders with almost inhuman ease.
- Jenson, Pete (30 May 2015). "Lionel Messi: Is the Barcelona Forward the Greatest of Them All?". The Independent. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Cairns, Dan (8 January 2013). "How Does Lionel Messi Stack up against Football Legends?". BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Valdano: 'Messi Es Maradona Todos Los Días'" [Valdano: 'Messi Is Maradona Every Day'] (in Spanish). FIFA. 7 October 2013. Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Menotti: 'Messi Está al Nivel del Mejor Maradona Que Vi'" [Menotti: 'Messi Is at the Level of the Best Maradona That I Saw']. AS (in Spanish). 10 January 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Hunter 2012, pp. 7–8.
- Brennan, Dan (12 August 2013). "Face to Face: Javier Zanetti". World Soccer. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Sin Dudas, Messi Es Mejor que Maradona" ['Without Doubt, Messi Is Better than Maradona']. Clarín (in Spanish). 31 December 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Longman, Jeré (12 July 2014). "Adept? Yes. Adored? Not Yet". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Mora y Araujo, Marcela (23 December 2009). "Lionel Messi Is Not the New Maradona – He Can Be Better than That". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Vomits Because of Nerves, Says Argentina's Alejandro Sabella". The Guardian. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi lacks the leadership needed to carry a team". ESPN FC. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
- Tilghman, John (4 November 2010). "Maradona vs. Messi: A Laughable Comparison". bleacherreport.com. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
- West, Andy (22 November 2018). "Lionel Messi: Is Barcelona forward really cut out for captaincy?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
- "Argentina federation to have affairs managed by emergency FIFA panel". ESPN FC. 24 June 2016.
- "Messi paid the salaries of Argentina's security team". Marca. Spain. 18 November 2016.
- Hunter, Graham (28 November 2010). "The Game's Best Rivalry". ESPN FC. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Messi v Ronaldo". Sky Sports. 17 October 2011. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
- "Barcelona's Lionel Messi Blames Media for Inventing Rivalry with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo". The Daily Telegraph. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Snowball, Ben (11 June 2015). "Lionel Messi: Cristiano Ronaldo Is Not My Rival". Eurosport. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Ballons d'Or winners list". The Telegraph. 2 April 2017.
- Arotaritei, Sorin; Di Maggio, Roberto; Stokkermans, Karel. "Golden Boot (Soulier d'Or) Awards". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Mendes, Chris (24 June 2014). "World Cup 2014: Cristiano Ronaldo's Personal Duel with Lionel Messi Is Affecting His Performances for Portugal". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Hughes, Rob (13 September 2011). "Ronaldo May Look Like the Best, but There Is Someone Better". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Pinto, Pedro; Montague, James (29 May 2012). "Cristiano Ronaldo: I'm Better than Messi". CNN. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Lewis, Tim (24 November 2013). "Cristiano Ronaldo: He's Got a God-Given Talent – and He Knows It". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Badenhausen, Kurt (16 May 2014). "Lionel Messi Reaches $50 Million-A-Year Deal With Barcelona". Forbes. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Rainbow, Jamie (18 March 2014). "Stat of the Day: Top 20 Best Paid Players and Coaches". World Soccer. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Reynolds, Ben (8 June 2016). "Cristiano Ronaldo first footballer to top Forbes rich list of highest-earning athletes". Sky Sports. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
- "Lionel Messi devance largement Cristiano Ronaldo au classement des joueurs les mieux payés au monde". France Football. Retrieved 4 June 2018
- "Lionel Messi edges out Cristiano Ronaldo to head Forbes top 100 highest paid athletes". BBC. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
- "Lionel Messi Signs New Barcelona Contract, Set To Become World's Highest-Paid Footballer". Forbes. Retrieved 17 December 2017
- "President Obama honors the Rapids". Colorado Rapids (Owned by Stan Kroenke). 27 June 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. That is me and Messi. We're right up there. Absolutely. (Laughter.)
- Long, Michael (20 May 2015). "The World's 50 Most Marketable 2015". SportsPro. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Caioli 2012, pp. 94–97.
- "Retrospect: Adidas F50 Messi Collection". Soccer Bible. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- "Backed by Messi" (Press release). Adidas. 25 September 2015. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- "adidas Football Launches Nemeziz 17+ 360 Agility". Soccer Bible. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
- Matchett, Karl (25 April 2017). "The Story Behind Lionel Messi's 5 Most Iconic Barcelona Celebrations". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 18 December 2017.
- "The World's Fourth Most Marketable Athlete – Lionel Messi". SportsPro. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Badenhausen, Kurt (10 January 2011). "Lionel Messi Voted Soccer's Best, But Sponsors Stay Away". Forbes. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
- "Lionel Messi and Dolce & Gabbana: An Assist in Style" (PDF) (Press release). Dolce & Gabbana. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Millerchip, Oliver (3 February 2014). "Messi to Front New Gillette Campaign". SportsPro. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Argentine Soccer Star Leo Messi Named Global Brand Ambassador for Turkish Airlines" (Press release). Reuters. 6 December 2012. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- McPherson, Ian (28 February 2013). "Messi Cashes in with Qatari Contract". SportsPro. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Is Global Brand Ambassador for Tata Motors". Firstpost. 3 November 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
- Guinness World Records 2014, p. 102.
- "Lionel Messi to Star on Cover of EA Sports FIFA for Fourth Straight Year". Sports Illustrated. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "FIFA 14: 5 Best Goal Celebrations". What Culture. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
- Henry, Thierry (21 April 2011). "The 2011 Time 100: Lionel Messi, God of the Field". Time. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Hamm, Mia (18 April 2012). "The World's 100 Most Influential People 2012: Lionel Messi". Time. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Messi Joins Facebook, Nets 7 m Followers". ESPN FC. 6 April 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Giuliano, Karissa (9 June 2015). "The 10 Most Popular Celebrities on Facebook". CNBC. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Top 100 Instagram Users by Followers- Socialblade Instagram Stats – Instagram Statistics". Socialblade. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- Borg, Chris (2 December 2014). "Ballon D'Or: Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo – Battle of the Brands". CNN. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Top 10 Most Marketable Footballers in the World" (PDF) (Press release). Repucom. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Messi's Left Foot – Yours for $5.25 Million". CNN. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Krasselt, Kaitlyn (21 June 2014). "Cannes to Cannes: YouTube's Most Viewed Ads". USA Today. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Lorenzetti, Laura (3 June 2015). "YouTube Users Say This Is the 'Ad of the Decade'". Time. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "The Best Sports Photo of the Year Goes To... Lionel Messi and 'the Final Game'". Eurosport. 12 February 2015. Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Barker, Andrew (27 August 2014). "Venice Film Review: 'Messi'". Variety. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Ganguly, Sudipto (22 June 2018). "Russia's Messi, a puma – star in his own right". WDEZ. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- "Lionel Messi's wife explains her absence at World Cup opener that left him broken hearted". USAHint. 21 June 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- "Argentina hosts Lionel Messi's 'wedding of the century'". BBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- Fitzpatrick, Richard (23 June 2017). "The Machine of '87: Messi's Boyhood Teammates Recall Early Signs of Greatness". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
- "Messi Shares Baby Joy". beIN Sports. 17 June 2012. Archived from the original on 19 August 2015.
- "Messi Junior Named Thiago". ESPN FC. 2 November 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi's Wife Expecting Second Child, Barcelona Star Says". ESPN FC. 30 April 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Messi's Brother Confirms Birth of Barcelona Star's Second Child". FourFourTwo. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
- "Lionel Messi marries stunning childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo in Argentine home town". The Independent Ireland. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Lionel Messi and wife Antonella Roccuzzo expecting their third child". ESPN FC. 15 October 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
- Smith, Alex (15 October 2017). "Lionel Messi and wife Antonella Roccuzzo have big news". The Mirror. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
- "Barcelona news: Lionel Messi announces arrival of third child after withdrawing from squad to face Malaga | Goal.com". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 31, 143, 570.
- Balagué 2013, pp. 576–577.
- Wright, Chris (5 November 2012). "After Just 72 Hours on the Planet, Thiago Messi Signs for Newell's Old Boys". ESPN FC. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Leo Messi: Goodwill Ambassador". UNICEF. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- Rogers, Iain; Palmer, Justin. "Barcelona Extend UNICEF Shirt Deal to 2016". Reuters. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Leo Messi Activity Highlights". UNICEF. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Leo Messi's Son Turns One and Celebrates with UNICEF" (Press release). UNICEF. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Lionel Messi Fast Facts". CNN. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Ooredoo, Messi Foundation Continue Expansion: Three New Mobile Health Clinics Launched in Algeria". Arab Times. 3 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "'Lionel Messi and Friends' Soccer Tour Is One of Many Causes Argentine Superstar Supports". New England Sports Network. 22 June 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Partners". Leo Messi Foundation. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- "Argentina's Lionel Messi wins libel case, donates damages to charity". ESPN FC. 7 June 2016.
- "Messi, father guilty of tax fraud, given suspended 21-month sentences". Sports Illustrated. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
- "Barcelona's Lionel Messi in tax court: I played football and trusted my father". ESPN FC. 2 June 2016.
- Caioli 2012, pp. 69–71.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2014–15". BDFutbol. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2015–16". BDFutbol. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2016–17". BDFutbol. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2017–18". BDFutbol. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2018–19". BDFutbol. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
- "Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini: Matches 2019–20". BDFutbol. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
- "Lionel Messi: Player Profile". ESPN FC. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
- "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or")". The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
- "FIFA Ballon d'Or: History". FIFA. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Messi, Neuer Heralded as Brazil 2014's Best". FIFA. 13 July 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "BeIN Sports: Messi habría rechazado el MVP del torneo" [BeIN Sports: Messi reportedly rejects MVP award for tournament] (in Spanish). AS.com. 5 July 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
- "Lionel Messi allegedly refuses best player award at Copa America as trophy removed from ceremony". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Messi rechazó recoger el premio a MVP de la Copa América". Marca (in Spanish). Spain. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Messi rechazó el MVP del Argentina-Paraguay de la Copa América". Sport. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Profile: Lionel Messi". UEFA. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Otero, Paul M. (12 November 2013). "Palmarés de un Genio: El Coleccionista de Trofeos" [Honours of a Genius: The Collector of Trophies]. Marca (in Spanish). Spain. Archived from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Messi, Mejor Delantero y Mejor Jugador" [Messi, Best Forward and Best Player] (in Spanish). Liga de Fútbol Profesional. 2 December 2013. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Lionel Messi, 2014–15 Liga BBVA Best Player". Liga de Fútbol Profesional. 30 November 2015. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "La entrega del premio Pichichi a Messi, en directo". Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish). 12 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
- "Lionel Messi named Best Striker in La Liga Santander 2015–16". Liga de Fútbol Profesional. 24 October 2016. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- "FIFA Club World Cup: Awards". FIFA. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015.
- Messi Wins Sixth Pichichi Trophy, Extends Lead in European Golden Boot Race – Si.com , May 19, 2019
- Messi equals Zarra's record with sixth Pichichi award – Onefootball , May 19, 2019
- "Barcelona Trio Sweep Awards". FIFA. 20 December 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005". FIFA. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Premios Olimpia 2015: La Judoca Paula Pareto se Llevó el Oro y los de Plata Fueron Para Messi, Marco Ruben, Andrés Nocioni y Adolfo Cambiaso" [Olympia Awards 2015: The Judoca Paula Pareto Took the Gold and Silver Was for Messi, Marco Ruben, Andrés Nocioni and Adolfo Cambiaso] (in Spanish). LRA Radio Nacional. 23 December 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "Los Ganadores de Olimpia de Plata en Cada Deporte, con los Medallistas Dorados de Río entre los Destacados" [The Winners of the Silver Olimpia in Each Sport, with the Gold Medalists of Río among the Highlights]. La Nacion (in Spanish). 20 December 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
- "Delfina Pignatiello se quedó con el Olimpia de Oro". TN (in Spanish). Buenos Aires. 20 December 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
- Caioli 2012, p. 248.
- "FIFPro and FIFA Present the 2015 World XI". FIFPro. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
- "The Best named at FIFA Football Awards". FIFA. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "FIFA FIFPro World11". FIFA. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
- "DE GEA, KANTE AND MBAPPE IN WORLD 11". FIFPro World Players' Union. 24 September 2018.
- "VAN DIJK AMONG FOUR DEBUTANTS IN MEN'S WORLD 11". FIFPro World Players' Union. 23 September 2019.
- "Team of the Year 2015: Lionel Messi". UEFA. 8 January 2016. Archived from the original on 20 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- "Facts and figures: UEFA.com Team of the Year 2017". UEFA.com: The official website for European football. UEFA. 11 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
- "UEFA.com fans' Team of the Year 2018 revealed". UEFA.com: The official website for European football. UEFA. 11 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- "Ultimate Team of the Year: the all-time XI". UEFA. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
- "The 2014–15 Liga BBVA Ideal XI". Liga de Fútbol Profesional. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "Dream Team Winners Earn Sony Prizes". FIFA. 23 July 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "El Once Ideal de la Copa América" [The Ideal Eleven of the Copa América]. La República (in Spanish). 16 July 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
- "The Copa América 2011 Dream Team". Copa America Organisation. 8 June 2015. Archived from the original on 30 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- "Copa América 2015: Team of the Tournament". Copa America Organisation. 5 July 2015. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
- "La Selección de Todos los Tiempos" [The Team of All Time] (in Spanish). Argentine Football Association. 4 January 2016. Archived from the original on 14 August 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
- Balagué, Guillem (2013). Messi. Orion Books. ISBN 978-1-4091-4659-9.
- Caioli, Luca (2012). Messi: The Inside Story of the Boy Who Became a Legend. Corinthian Books. ISBN 978-1-906850-40-1.
- Caioli, Luca (2015). Messi: More than a Superstar. Icon Books. ISBN 978-1-906850-91-3.
- Guinness World Records 2015. Guinness World Records. 2014. ISBN 978-1-908843-65-4.
- Hunter, Graham (2012). Barça: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World. BackPage Press. ISBN 978-0-9564971-8-5.
- Lisi, Clemente Angelo (2011). A History of the World Cup: 1930–2010. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-7754-2.
- Tomkins, Paul (2007). Above Us Only Sky: Liverpool FC's Global Revolution. Anchor Print Group. ISBN 978-0-9556367-0-7.