48 not out: Messi proves himself king of the goals

Having overtaken Ronaldo's Barcelona record, the little Argentine will expect to add more before the season's end

When lionel Messi scored his 48th goal of the season for Barcelona against Shakhtar Donetsk, he set a club record, overtaking the 47 that Ronaldo scored in 1996-97. What is even more remarkable is that Barcelona have at least 10 more matches this season, thereby giving Messi the chance to continue into uncharted scoring territory.

From his current position, it would be a surprise if Messi did not reach beyond those immediately ahead of him from the very modern era. Mario Jardel and Henrik Larsson scored 55 and 53 goals respectively in individual seasons. They did so, however, in the Portuguese and Scottish leagues respectively, both of which were weaker than today's Spanish league. La Liga is second in the Uefa co-efficient of domestic leagues and is host to most of the world's finest footballers, as well as the Spanish national team being world and European champions.

In the unlikely event that Messi scores no more goals this season, his current record will still be astonishing. He lies two short of a half-century, having scored 29 in 28 La Liga games, nine in 10 in the Champions League, seven in six in the cup and three in two in the Supercup. Moreover, he has the opportunity from here to push ever further into the stratosphere of goal-scoring achievement, as well as adding to his bounteous medal collection.

Barça play in the Clasico at Real Madrid on Saturday evening, and a victory in the Bernabeu would give them a near-insurmountable 11-point lead over their rivals with six league games left. Just four days after that, the two teams meet again, at the Mestalla to play the Copa del Rey final. Messi will be looking to achieve one of the few things he has not yet managed; to score against a side managed by Jose Mourinho, despite eight previous chances to do so.

Barcelona's remaining league games, at home to Osasuna, Espanyol and Deportivo, and away at Real Sociedad, Levante and Malaga, should provide Messi with sufficient chances to push towards Dixie Dean's 63 goals, amassed for Everton in 1927-28. In among those league fixtures are two Champions League semi-finals and, he will be hoping, a final at Wembley.

Messi has already won the European Cup, and scored in the 2009 final. His record in the elite club competition is another powerful argument for his brilliance, should any more be needed. On the least flat track of them all, in the tournament which Sir Alex Ferguson believes has superseded the World Cup as the apogee of football, Messi was top scorer with nine in 2009 and again with eight in 2010. So far this year he is top again, with nine.

On Tuesday, Barcelona knocked out Shakhtar, the only goal of the second leg coming from Messi, who shifted the ball from his right foot to his left before stabbing it home. "Our main shortcoming was our lack of Lionel Messi," said Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu. "If he played for us, I'm sure we would have beaten Barcelona."

Messi v Ronaldo

2010-11 Season 1996-97

48 (46) Goals (games) 47 (49)

23 Age 20

29 (28) La Liga goals (games) 34 (37)

9 (10) Europe 5 (7)

7 (6) Copa del Rey 8 (5)

3 (2) Spanish Supercup n/a

Highest scorers in a European season:

66 F Deak (Hun), Ferencvaros 1948-49

63 D Dean (Eng), Everton 1927-28

56 G Zsengeller (Hun), Ujpes 1938-39

55 M Jardel (Bra), Sporting 2001-02

53 H Larsson (Swe), Celtic 2000-01

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering