Messi set for 700th Barcelona game as he continues pursuit of Xavi & Pele records
Lionel Messi will make his 700th official appearance for Barcelona as they face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday, with the Argentine in rapid pursuit of records held by club legend Xavi and Brazilian icon Pele.
Messi will captain Barca in the Group F game, knowing that a win at the Nou Camp will book a spot in a knockout stages.
On a personal note, Messi will be making a landmark appearance as the 32-year-old chases the club record of 767 matches held by midfield icon and former teammate Xavi Hernández.
Messi, 32, already owns the record as the club’s top trophy winner with 34 titles to his name, and has so far netted 612 times for the Catalans, including 113 strikes in 139 Champions League appearances.
Messi has also registered a staggering 235 assists since making his formal senior debut as a 17-year-old against Espanyol in 2004.
His 12 goals in nine club games this season have edged him closer to Pele’s record tally for a single club, with the Brazilian goalscoring great finding the net 643 times for Santos between the 1950s and ‘70s.
Messi, 32, could conceivably catch that tally by the end of this season, while he will also be training his sights on great rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s record Champions League haul of 128 goals in the competition (scored at a rate of 0.77 goals per game, compared to Messi’s 0.81).
Messi has won Europe’s biggest club prize four times with Barca, the last of those coming in 2015.
He is tipped to add to his personal haul of five Ballon d’Or titles this year, with recent rumors that he will pip Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk to the accolade in December.Also on rt.com Messi to receive SIXTH Ballon d'Or ahead of Ronaldo & van Dijk after being told of decision a week before ceremony - reports
There are also reports this week that Messi is set to quit Barca in 2021. He reportedly told former teammate Neymar: “Only together can we win the Champions League, I want you to come back.
“In two years I will leave and you will take over.”
There is speculation that Messi would be open to a stint in MLS before calling time on his gilded career, or even a return to boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys in his homeland.
After Liverpool's comeback against Barcelona at Anfield, Messi spoke with Neymar on the phone and said: 'Only together can we win the Champions League, I want you to come back. In two years I will leave and you will take over'." [france football] pic.twitter.com/fyGXIWPIW8— barcacentre (@barcacentre) November 26, 2019
Barcelona currently stand one point ahead of Dortmund in Group F after four games played, with Inter Milan four points behind.
The Germans have never won in three attempts against Barca, losing once and drawing twice. The Catalans have won 13 out of 15 home Champions League matches against German opposition.