Lionel Messi’s Goal Scoring Record Is Bittersweet

Congratulations to Lionel Messi for setting a new single season record (68 goals and counting) for a player playing for a European top-flight club, breaking the previous record of 67 set by former Bayern Munich striker Gerd Mueller in 1972-73.

This is a fantastic achievement and is yet another milestone in what is already a stellar career. He continues to amaze the millions of Barcelona fans who have been  privileged to be able to watch Messi play for our team.

However, my admiration for this achievement is mixed with some disappointment. I am sure that even Lionel  Messi himself is less satisfied because it has happened in a season when we haven’t won either La Liga or the Champions League. This is because his focus has always been on the success of the team, not himself.  However, Messi can still be rightly proud to have broken such a great and long standing record.

Ironically, I feel that there is corellation between Messi scoring so many goals and the reduced success of our Barcelona team. This is because that the increase in his scoring has largely replaced the contribution of goals by the other players. This season, no other player has scored twenty goals. In each of the past three trophy filled seasons, there have been two other players who reached that milestone.

In our treble year, (2008/09) the trident of Messi (38), Samuel Eto’o (36) and Thierry Henry (26) scored exactly 100 goals between them. The following season (2009/10) Pedro (23) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (21) ably supported Messi’s 47 goals. Last season (2010/11), the M-V-P strikeforce scored 98 goals with Messi’s 53 goals being augmented by the efforts of David Villa (23) and Pedro (22).

The last thing I want to do is to downplay Messi’s achievement. This goal scoring record is another example of how great a player he is, probably the best ever. However, Barcelona can at times be overreliant on Leo’s brilliance. In the games against Chelsea, Messi was well contained by a defence that focused largely on him. Our other players were not able to make up for this.

I have to say that its not that I want Lionel Messi to score less. What I want is for the other players to score more. The fact that Messi played nearly every minute of every game probably helped him score so many goals. However, in the long run continuing to do that will shorten his career which is something none of us wants. Tiredness may have contributed to him being less effective against Chelsea that he is usually is.

Finally, I have to say once again that Lionel Messi’s record is a fantastic achievement and testament to how great a player he is.

Lionel Messi is currently leading the Pichichi award for La Liga’s top goalscorer – I hope he wins it, but trophies which really matter in football are collective, not individual.

Posted by: Drago , Columnist at ‘Culé Talk’