Lionel Messi will go down in history as one of the greatest players to have ever laced up a pair of boots, with the iconic Argentine raising the bar of individual excellence to heights that few can dare to dream of reaching.
He has sent records tumbling across the most remarkable of careers, with a move to Paris Saint-Germain made in the summer of 2021 after helping Barcelona to 10 La Liga titles, seven Copas del Rey, four Champions League crowns and three Club World Cup triumphs – along with a number of other trophies.
The legendary South American also has a Copa America victory and an Olympic gold medal to his name, as well as seven Ballons d’Or and history-making goal returns at club and international level, but which season was his best and when did he slip up slightly? GOAL takes a look…
Given the standards that Messi has set at the very top of a world game, endeavouring to pick out just one season from a long list of standout campaigns is an almost thankless task.
It is, however, impossible to ignore the fact that 2014-15 was a notable high point for a man that has scaled sporting mountains on an annual basis.
Ahead of the 2014-15 season, Messi could have been forgiven for feeling a little sorry for himself.
He had come within touching distance of World Cup glory on Russian soil, only to endure extra-time heartache in a demoralising final defeat to Germany.
Any frustration he felt at missing out on the chance to match the achievements of fellow countryman Diego Maradona on a global stage were taken out on unsuspecting rivals at domestic and continental level.
Messi was a man on a mission in a memorable campaign, with a stunning haul of 58 goals recorded across 57 appearances in all competitions – while also chipping in with a further 25 assists.
Unsurprisingly, such efforts delivered an impressive collection of major honours.
Barca swept their way to the Liga title and Copa del Rey glory, while also going on to conquer Europe as a Champions League triumph completed a notable treble.
Messi was named as the Spanish top-flight’s Player of the Season, before going on to claim his fifth Golden Ball at the end of 2015.
Honourable mentions in the best season stakes have to go to 2012-13, when another Ballon d’Or and La Liga crown were claimed alongside 60 goals, the 2011-12 season that delivered 73 goals and 2010-11 which produced another domestic and European double to go with a 53-goal return.
Is there such a thing as a bad Messi season? Not since 2007-08 has he failed to break the 30-goal barrier, with a useful habit picked up of being able to avoid long-term injuries.
His most serious knocks were picked up early on on his career, meaning that 2006-07 could be considered his most disappointing campaign to date.
While Messi was still in the process of earning a reputation as one of the best in the business at that stage, an untimely spell on the sidelines did stunt his progress somewhat.
A fractured metatarsal suffered in November 2006 would see the South American forced out of action for 87 days, forcing him to miss 18 fixtures for Barcelona.
He did find the target on 17 occasions – including a Clasico hat-trick and a Maradona-esque solo effort against Getafe – when fully fit, but the Blaugrana failed to fire as a collective that season under Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard.
The Spanish Super Cup was all that Barca had to show for their efforts in 2006-07, with the La Liga title claimed by arch-rivals Real Madrid on head-to-head superiority – after a thrilling tie on points – while Sevilla landed the Copa del Rey.
It took the appointment of Pep Guardiola as head coach in 2008 to shake the Catalan giants out of a slight rut, with Messi’s game taken to new heights from that point alongside fellow La Masia academy graduates Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Gerard Pique and Pedro.
Messi has barely dipped from great to very good since then, although there is work for him to do in the present at PSG after making a slow start to life in France on the back of a switch that stunned the sporting world.
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