Lionel Messi plays 500th game for Barcelona, scores in 4-0 win over Betis
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner moved to Europe as a 13-year-old from home town Rosario, Argentina, going on to graduate from the Camp Nou outfit’s fabled La Masia youth system.
Since then Messi has become a Barcelona legend and one of the best players ever to play the sport.
Barca have won 26 trophies over the course of the Argentine’s 500 games for the Blaugrana. This puts Messi at the same level of club trophies - a Barcelona record - as current captain Andres Iniesta.
These include seven La Liga crowns, four Champions Leagues and three FIFA Club World Cups, with the most recent coming earlier this month as the Catalans won the global club competition in Japan.
Messi is comfortably Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer, with his strike against Betis making it 425 goals in his 500 games in all competitions.
His best return in a single campaign came in 2011-12, when he scored an incredible 73 goals in all competitions, including a record 50 in La Liga. The South American netted a total of 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year.
Messi has scored in 267 matches, with Barcelona only losing on nine occasions when he has hit the back of the net.
Of his 500 games, the 28-year-old has recorded victory in 350, while he has hit 27 hat-tricks, four quartets and recorded a five-goal haul against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in March 2012.
Messi is sixth in Barcelona’s all-time appearance list, with former midfielder Xavi’s 767 games the most in Blaugrana history.
The 28-year-old is the frontrunner to win the Ballon d’Or for a record fifth time next month, despite missing two months of the current campaign through injury.
Messi’s amazing form was a key reason behind Barcelona winning five trophies in 2015, with the Argentine striking up a menacing front-three partnership with Neymar and Luis Suarez.
The scintillating attacker scored his side’s second in the 4-0 win over Betis, ensuring the Camp Nou side stay top of La Liga going into 2016.
Messi said he hoped the next 12 months would be as successful as 2015 for the Catalan side.
"It has been a spectacular year and we tried to end it in the same way,” the Argentine said after his 500th Barcelona game.
"It would be difficult to improve on what we did in 2015, but we are going to try. We have a very motivated squad, which wants to do important things."