Messi marks 16 years at Barcelona by scoring two goals in 5-1 win

Messi marks 16 years at Barcelona by scoring two goals in 5-1 win
Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi marked sixteen years at Catalan club Barcelona by scoring two goals in a 5-1 away win at Leganes.

Messi added two goals – including one from the penalty spot – to others scored by Neymar, Luis Suarez and Rafinha, in an apparent celebration of his tenure at the club.

Messi joined Barcelona’s youth ranks as a 13-year-old from local team Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, and made his first team debut in 2005 as an 18-year-old.

His achievements since then have been nothing short of phenomenal. In the time since he made his senior team bow, Messi has scored 462 goals in 540 Barcelona games, including 36 hattricks.

Those goals helped his side to 29 major honors, including eight La Liga titles and an astonishing four Champions Leagues in an unprecedented period of success for the Spanish side.

Widely regarded as the best player of his generation – and touted by some as the best player of all time – Messi has also earned a plethora of individual awards. 

He has been named the best player in the world by FIFA five times and won the European golden shoe, given to the player on the continent with the most goals, in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

The anniversary comes as a welcome reason to celebrate Messi, who endured some rough points in 2016.

In June, Argentina was beaten in the final of the Copa America by Chile in a penalty shootout in which Messi missed his spot kick. Following the disappointment, Messi, who sobbed after the defeat, retired from international football. 

Just two weeks after his decision to retire, he and his father were sentenced to 21 months in prison after being convicted of tax fraud by a Spanish court.

READ MORE: Messi brother gets community service for illegal gun possession

Then just this week his older brother Matias was sentenced to carry out unpaid work – including teaching football classes – after being found in possession of an illegal gun.

But shortly afterwards, pictures surfaced of a revitalized-looking Messi sporting a new platinum blonde hairstyle emerged on the internet, the Barcelona number 10 announced he would perform a U-turn on his international retirement and return to the Argentina set up.

READ MORE: The Messi U-turn: what made football superstar rethink retirement