Will Messi break more records next season?

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Lionel Messi stunned European football last season with a goalscoring campaign of which the likes had never been witnessed; devastating defences across the continent on his way to 73 goals.

It was no a wholly unexpected achievement given the 25-year-old's exploits in the the two seasons preceding, but the Barcelona forward was still able to stun the football world into universal speechlessness.

The statistics from the season were staggering, with Messi's 50 goals in La Liga alone coming from 198 shots on goal, and his overall tally six greater than Gerd Muller's 39-year-old European record.

But where could Messi possibly go from here? Well, he could of course break new ground once again and become the first player to ever pass 80 goals in a top-flight season, while Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has spoken of a 100 strike target.

Such are his immense talents and such is his position as, perhaps, the finest player in the history of the game, Messi is able to instil relative confidence that he could quite easily surpass his previous records.

Although, as proven by a GMF poll, more fans harbour doubts over Messi's chances of breaking new ground once again next season, but they outweigh those backing the Argentine by the most minuscule amount.

Over 25,000 fans responded when asked by GMF if Messi would be able to beat his record of 73 goals in 2012/13, and the voting could hardly have been tighter.

Of those polled, 49.9 percent gave their support to Messi in his quest to surpass last season's tally, leaving 50.1 percent unsure if the Barcelona superstar can write his name into the annals of football history once again.

The split between fans is staggeringly close, and it is perhaps testament to the metronomic goalscoring ability Messi possesses that he is able to divide opinion.

Those backing Messi to reach new heights next term will have been buoyed by his performances during pre-season, having scored a hat-trick during Barcelona's 8-0 rout of Raja Casablanca last weekend.

Messi has already, perhaps ominously, claimed he is in better shape this summer than he has ever been, given a period of extended rest not afforded to him during previous years.

Last season, Messi managed to score 73 goals having played almost non-stop over the two years preceding, with the World Cup in 2010 and Copa America in 2011 dominating the supposed off-season.

This year, however, Messi has been able to put his feet up in Cancun and relax before rejoining with his club-mates, and now believes he is more refreshed for it.

Does this serve as an early warning to defenders across the continent? We shall see. But those in support of Messi breaking records once again could significantly increase in number when the season begins in earnest.

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