Lionel Messi and Barcelona have gone their separate ways.
In arguably the most heartbreaking divorce that football has ever seen, the Blaugrana announced last week that La Liga were unable to accept their proposed contract renewal for the Argentine.
The events that followed culminated in Messi delivering a tearful press conference at Camp Nou where he confirmed that he would be leaving the club despite wanting to extend his stay.
Messi leaving Barcelona
It’s a cruel twist of fate that means Messi will pull on the jersey of another club for the first time in his professional career with Paris Saint-Germain almost certainly set to become his new employers.
However, before we get too familiar with the prospect of Messi plying his trade in Ligue 1, it would be rude not to join millions of fans around the world in celebrating his time with Barcelona.
And with Messi’s all-time Barcelona statistics seemingly concluded, supporters could feasibly start to map out where the 34-year-old fits in to the broader debate of the club’s greatest ever players.
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Messi’s place in Barcelona history
While it might seem obvious to many that Messi is the top dog in Barcelona’s history, make no mistake that the Catalan giants have played host to some of the finest footballers of all time.
In fact, when we turned to one of the most popular ranking websites on the internet, Ranker.com, we were astonished to learn that Messi was only being heralded as Barca’s fourth greatest player.
Their interactive list titled: “The Best FC Barcelona Players Of All Time, Ranked,” has attracted more than 187,000 votes with fans able to up-vote and down-vote players based on their own opinion.
And at the time of writing, which coincides with Messi’s departure from Camp Nou, there are three players who rank higher than Barcelona’s all-time record goalscorer and appearance maker.
Barcelona’s top 30 players
However, before we unveil the three lucky players to occupy a loftier spot than Messi, we suggest that you take a full peruse of the list’s upper echelons by checking out the top 30 down below:
29. Victor Valdes
27. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
26. Luis Enrique
25. Patrick Kluivert
24. Michael Laudrup
23. Andoni Zubizarreta
22. Gheorghe Hagi
21. David Villa
20. Thierry Henry
There is so much that makes you want to tear your hair out already, isn’t there? First and foremost, it is baffling to think that László Kubala and César Rodríguez haven’t even reached the top 30.
And while, yes, Henry is one of the greatest players of the modern era, there’s not a chance in hell that he should rank in the top 20 when you take his three seasons at Barcelona in isolation.
At least the selections of Zubizarreta, Enrique, Valdes and arguably Neymar are broadly on the money, but clearly Ibrahimovic and Hagi have been bumped up by their reputation away from Catalonia.
19. Marc-Andre ter Stegen
18. Sergio Busquets
17. Gerard Pique
16. Pep Guardiola
15. Dani Alves
14. Ronald Koeman
13. Luis Suarez
12. Samuel Eto’o
Ok, things have improved a lot in this section because there’s no denying that Alves, Busquets, Suarez and Eto’o have all majorly contributed to Barcelona’s global success in the 21st century.
We’ll also skate over the fact that Ter Stegen has been bewildering parachuted 10 places ahead of Valdes and just savour that Guardiola and Koeman have received the plaudits they deserve.
9. Ronaldo Nazario
8. Diego Maradona
7. Carles Puyol
5. Andres Iniesta
4. Lionel Messi
2. Johan Cruyff
1. Hristo Stoichkov
Top ten summary
It was all going so well and then this happened… what on earth?! I’m sorry, but clearly I missed the memo that Stoichkov was Barcelona’s greatest ever player because 40,000 fans have backed him.
Yes, that’s right, the Bulgarian icon attracted 32,000 more votes than Messi when it came to being the finest footballer that Barcelona has ever seen and frankly, we’re just as baffled as you are.
In fact, it’s not until we get to Messi’s name that the list starts to make some sort of sense with the order of Iniesta, Xavi and Puyol roughly ringing true until Maradona arrives out of nowhere.
All in all, it’s fair to say that football fans don’t always get things right and Messi can rest assured that at least 8,600 supporters are registered online as considering him to be Barcelona’s GOAT.