Messi debut anniversary: Barcelona great's top club goals
We pick out 10 of Lionel Messi's best goals on the 17th anniversary of the first time the Argentine star played for Barcelona's first team.
On 16 November, 2003, a floppy-haired 16-year-old made his first appearance for Barcelona in a friendly against Porto – little did anyone know he would go on to become arguably the greatest to play the sport.
Lionel Messi had not even featured for Barça's B team at the point he was called up to travel with the senior side to Porto for the inauguration of Estadio do Dragão.
Messi made a 15-minute cameo in the 2-0 loss, marking the start of a remarkable career that has been blessed with a vast array of honours, including a record six Ballons d'Or.
Among the players to feature for Barça that day were Rafael Márquez, Xavi and Luis Enrique, true greats of the club, but Messi has gone on to surpass them all.
However, the ugly off-field saga that played out in pre-season suggests the sight of Messi in a Barça shirt might not be one we see after this season.
Despite all of the drama, Messi's goals have undoubtedly solidified his status as an all-time great and here is a look at a chronological top 10 from his collection.
Albacete (H): 1 May, 2005
Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already seen one goal wrongly ruled out for offside - an audacious chip from the edge of the box - Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.
Málaga (H): 22 March, 2009
Thierry Henry's favourite goal by Messi during their time playing together for Barça. Why not let the France great take up the story? "It defied logic what he did," Henry said in the 'Take the Ball, Pass the Ball' documentary. "There's a diagonal ball and he controls it on his chest. He runs full speed, then the first player goes and the second player is just behind. If he takes another step, that player will clear the ball." A shimmy of the body and deft touch later – in the blink of an eye – Messi stabbed into the top corner to conclude a moment of 100-miles-per-hour brilliance.
Real Zaragoza (A): 21 March, 2010
Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, this strike against Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in a goal that began when he won the ball from a tackle at halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.
Real Madrid (A): 27 April, 2011
At the height of the Clásico rivalry between Guardiola's Barça and José Mourinho's Real Madrid, the two teams met four times in three different competitions in less than a month. The league meeting ended in a draw and Madrid won the Copa del Rey final, but Barça triumphed in the Champions League semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate win. The first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu, an ill-tempered affair to say the least, saw Messi make it 2-0 by bursting beyond four attempted challenges and slotting past Iker Casillas, all in the space of around five seconds.
Athletic Bilbao (A): 27 April, 2013
Barça would regain their LaLiga title from Madrid but were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern when they arrived at San Mamés. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcántara, twisted past Mikel San José, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly side-footing home from just inside the penalty area.
Bayern Munich (H): 6 May, 2015
Guardiola returned to Camp Nou with a Bayern side struggling with injury problems. They kept Barça at bay until the 77th minute of this Champions League semi-final first leg, when Messi finally struck. It was his second goal that earns a place in this list, though: collecting Ivan Rakitic's pass, a simple-looking shimmy left Jerome Boateng on his backside before he chipped Manuel Neuer with his weaker foot.
Real Madrid (A): 23 April, 2017
El Clésico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in stoppage time gave Jordi Alba the chance to square to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.
Real Betis (A): 17 March, 2019
Rarely has a hat-trick been completed in finer fashion. Messi's two goals had helped Barca to a 3-1 lead at the Benito Villamarín, before he passed to Rakitic, ran onto the return ball and sent a first-time chip over goalkeeper Pau López and in off the crossbar from just inside the box. It was a sublime effort that even had the home fans on the feet, applauding - something Messi himself admitted he had not experienced before.
Liverpool (H): 1 May, 2019
Over the past few years, Messi has mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. Liverpool held their own for long periods at Camp Nou but goals from Luis Suárez and Messi gave the hosts breathing space. Jürgen Klopp's side then had to bow to greatness when, after being brought down by Fabinho, Barça's talisman swept an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner. Barcelona would incredibly blow their 3-0 first-leg advantage, however, losing 4-0 at Anfield as Liverpool reached the Champions League final.
Atlético Madrid (A): 1 December, 2019
It was goalless in the 86th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano when Messi collected the ball on the right flank, 10 yards inside the Atlético half. Those famous feet began to shuffle with purpose, and although Atlético knew what Messi had in mind, they were powerless to resist the execution of his plan. Messi surged on, playing the ball to Luis Suárez on the edge of the penalty area before taking the return pass and cracking a brilliant 20-yard shot into the bottom left corner of Jan Oblak's goal. A winner, and one of the highest class.
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