Barcelona put Athletic Bilbao to the sword to win the 2020/21 Copa del Rey on Saturday night.
Despite the Spanish showpiece remaining goalless until the hour-mark, the Blaugrana produced an attacking masterclass in the closing exchanges to pull of an astonishingly convincing victory.
Besides, how often do you see a national cup final finishing with a 4-0 scoreline? The answer, by the way, is very rarely but it’s credit to just how brilliantly Barcelona are closing out their season.
Athletic Bilbao 0-4 Barcelona
And in the same vein as grass being green and water being wet, Lionel Messi was at his shimmering best during Barcelona’s victory, helping himself to two of the four goals.
Now, given the illustrious nature of Messi’s career, it might not seem all that spectacular that he added another Copa del Rey to his trophy cabinet, but all isn’t quite as it seems.
That’s because Barcelona’s thumping of Athletic actually means that Messi has risen further in the history books when it comes to a trophy cabinet that, well, probably needs its own mortgage.
Messi makes history
Catalan publication Sport reported in January that Messi was on course to become the joint-second most decorated footballer of all time as Barcelona prepared for the Spanish Super Cup final.
As we all know, Messi and Barca came up short on that particular occasion, losing to Athletic Bilbao of all clubs, but now the prophecy has been fulfilled thanks to the Blaugrana’s triumph in Seville.
That’s because Messi now boasts an astonishing record of 37 career honours that draws him level with Andres Iniesta and Maxwell with Dani Alves now just within five trophies atop the podium.
That, for the record, comes from ten La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey triumphs, eight Spanish Super Cup wins, four Champions League crowns, three UEFA Super Cups and FIFA Club World Cups apiece, an Olympic gold medal and an U20 World Cup.
Most decorated footballers of all time
But if that doesn’t frame Messi’s incredible achievement well enough, then be sure to check out the full top ten – per Sport’s calculations and our own swift updates since January – down below:
=9. Cristiano Ronaldo – 33 trophies
=9. Xavi – 33 trophies
8. Vitor Baia – 34 trophies
=6. Gerard Pique – 35 trophies
=6. Sir Kenny Dalglish – 35 trophies
5. Ryan Giggs – 36 trophies
=2. Maxwell – 37 trophies
=2. Andres Iniesta – 37 trophies
=2. Lionel Messi – 37 trophies
1. Dani Alves – 42 trophies
Messi will be rubbing his hands together at the prospect of footballing history now.
Messi closing in on history
Considering the Argentine is showing no signs of slowing down at 33 years old, there’s good reason to think that Messi will win the six trophies necessary regardless of whether he leaves Barca or not.
Sure, trophies have dried up in the last few seasons, but Messi wouldn’t have to win a hatful of Champions League titles to secure top spot as ‘just’ a couple of Super Cups would do the trick.
Throw in the fact that he could well overtake Cristiano Ronaldo as the greatest goalscorer in football history and we might be seeing the embryo of a bullet-proof argument for Messi being the GOAT.
After all, it would only seem apt and just that a player who produces so many wonderless moments that could never be represented in data would have that genius translate into raw statistics too.
Five trophies and the mountain GOAT will be at the summit.