Lionel Messi has scored 499 goals in his senior career. His next opponent? Real Madrid.
It seems only fitting that the Argentine will reach 500 against Barcelona’s main rivals and Messi even admitted it would be “nice” to score against Los Blancos in Saturday’s El Clasico.
Barcelona are on the verge of winning back-to-back La Liga titles - they hold a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid - and victory over Zinedine Zidane’s team will all but end any slim hopes Atleti have of surpassing Barca.
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The game will pit the game’s most clinical forwards against each other as Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come face-to-face. The 28-year-old will be looking to rub it into the Madrid man once again after beating him to the 2015 Ballon d’Or.
Messi scored his 499th career goal in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Bolivia on Tuesday and he wants to reach his next milestone in the Clasico.
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“It would be a nice moment to reach that figure against Real Madrid,” Messi said, per FourFourTwo.
He added: “It would be nice to win to stretch our advantage.”
How Messi manages to remain so calm and humble as he prepares to hit his 500th goal is quite stunning.
He is fully aware that the spotlight will be on him on Saturday - just as it has been since he made his first-team debut in 2004 - yet he still deflects the attention to the team.
Barcelona are on course to win the treble in back-to-back seasons following their La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League successes in 2014-15.
As well as their advantage in the La Liga, Luis Enrique’s team face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final in May and have a Champions League quarter-final clash against Atletico Madrid to look forward to.
Their treble charge has been spearheaded by the incredible efforts of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, who have combined to score 107 goals this season.
Neymar is the next star
And former Barcelona and Liverpool attacker Luis Garcia thinks Neymar could become Barca’s star man when Messi’s skills begin to fade.
Garcia, who won the Champions League with Liverpool, thinks Neymar could surpass Messi in as little as three years.
“In a couple, maybe three years, maybe Neymar is going to be the star,” Garcia told Omnisport, per FourFourTwo. “I doubt it, but it is possible. He's got all the light on him also, everybody is looking at those three.
“It's not that he is in the shadow of Messi or in the shadow of Luis Suarez, he's got the importance to the team, they know he is a key player for Barcelona.”