Football

Lionel Messi is on the verge of history yet again

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Lionel Messi will stride out at the Camp de Futbol de Vallecas on Saturday evening aware that a hat-trick against Rayo Vallecano will tie him with Telmo Zarra as La Liga's all-time top scorer.

Should the Argentine achieve the feat, his 251 La Liga goals will have come in just 284 appearances. For now, he remains tantalisingly on 248.

In an age of super-professionalism in football, it's another record that cannot be understated.

60-year record

The record has stood untouched for 60 years and it's doubtful that anyone had even heard of Telmo Zarra until Messi began to beat down the door to just about every record available.

Yet, from Messi's demeanour, you'd be forgiven for thinking that he's not too bothered about writing his name into the history books once more. He told reporters on Thursday:

''Right now, I am not thinking about the record but it will be nice to become the top scorer of one of the best leagues in the world. So many good players and scorers have played
here. It will come when it is supposed to.''

Typically understated and typically Messi.

No goals conceded in last three visits

Straight into the international break after this weekend's fixtures, Rayo present the perfect fodder for Messi to score the goals needed to see him installed as La Liga's number one.

In the last three visits to Rayo's Madrid bolthole, Barca haven't conceded a goal and their goals for column has remained steadily on the rise.

4-0, 5-0 and 7-0 scorelines are not something that Paco Jemez and his side will want to dwell on for too long, relying more on a simple work-ethic to knock Barca out of their, very comfortable, stride.

To that end, Roberto Trashorras' performance in central midfield is absolutely critical to a low scoring game.

Losing battle

Yet I suspect that even he will be fighting a losing battle against a rampant Blaugrana.

Ominously, Messi has started this season firing on all cylinders and has been a deserved man-of-the-match in almost every game he has played.

Neymar too has slotted into a perfect early season rhythm and looks twice the player he was at this stage last season.

But the reality is this and the next couple of La Liga games should be all about Messi. Such unbelievable, sustained footballing excellence should be given appropriate kudos, whether Messi thinks it's just another day at the office or not.

Better than Raul, Shearer

250 odd goals in 10 years. Equalling out to 25 per season, every season. That's the kind of strike rate in this day and age that is hard to comprehend - from a player that isn't even classed as a main striker!

Alan Shearer, ofted cited as one of the best centre forwards England have produced scored 283 goals in a career that spanned 18 years.

Real Madrid's Raul, another noted marksman, took 16 years to score 20 goals less than Messi has already managed.

Legend is a word often bandied around all too readily, but it's perfectly applicable in this case.

Watch out Rayo!

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Topics:
Barcelona
La Liga
Lionel Messi
Football

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