finance

Messi set to equal Barcelona's appearance record



© Reuters. Champions League – Round of 16 Second Leg – Paris St Germain v FC Barcelona

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Lionel Messi is primed to equal Xavi Hernandez’s record as Barcelona’s highest all-time appearance maker in Monday’s La Liga match at home to Huesca, completing a triple crown of the most prestigious records with the Catalan club.

Messi will join former midfielder Xavi on 767 matches in all competitions should he take the field against Huesca at the Camp Nou and then move clear as Barca’s record appearance maker when his side visit Real Sociedad next Sunday.

The appearance record is one of the few milestones Messi had yet to achieve in his storied career with Barca, who he joined aged 13 in 2000 before making his debut in 2004.

He surpassed Cesar as their all-time top scorer in 2012 and to date has 659 goals for the club, while he overtook Andres Iniesta as Barcelona’s most decorated player in August 2018 and has gone on to lift 34 trophies with the team.

The 33-year-old Messi also holds Barca’s records for most assists (289), most hat-tricks (48) and most goals in a single-season, a jaw-dropping 73 in the 2011-12 campaign.

Outside of club records, he became La Liga’s all-time top scorer in 2014 and has won the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the best player in the world each year, six times.

“The fact he is about to equal Xavi’s number of games is incredible,” said Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman ahead of Monday’s game.

“But you also have to look at all the goals he has scored and the trophies he has lifted. Everything he has done is remarkable.”

The only downside for Messi is that he will be unable to savour this most significant of milestones in front of Barca’s supporters due to continued novel coronavirus restrictions.

If Messi does not renew his contract with the club when it expires in June, the Camp Nou faithful may never be reacquainted with Barca’s greatest ever player featuring in their colours.

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