With 755 career goals to his name, Lionel Messi has successfully established his place among the most prolific goalscorers of all time. Following a slow start to his Paris Saint-Germain career, the Argentinian has picked up the slack in style, scoring three Champions League goals in quick succession. In due time, Lionel Messi is sure to replicate his goalscoring antics with Barcelona at the Parc des Princes.
Breakdown of goals scored by Lionel Messi
During his 17-year-long career, the La Masia graduate has been able to produce freakish numbers on a consistent basis, shattering all kinds of records in the process. Criticized for his supposed shortcomings with his national side, Lionel Messi has 80 goals in 156 appearances for Argentina, rendering the notion absolutely baseless. At club level, there are no words that could summarize his achievements. Fortunately for us, numbers can.
Having played for Barcelona for the bulk of his career, Lionel Messi recently departed Camp Nou with 474 La Liga and 120 Champions League goals. While he is yet to break his Ligue 1 duck with PSG, La Pulga has added three strikes to his European tally in as many games. Notably, Lionel Messi has also netted 56 goals in the Copa del Rey, winning the competition on seven occasions.
Considering his track record in the goalscoring field, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner practically guarantees output, regardless of the team he is playing for. Nevertheless, the managers he has played under have a lot to do with Lionel Messi's current reputation as a goal-getter.
While some tacticians have been able to extract the absolute maximum from the Argentine, others have failed to provide him the freedom he needs to thrive. On that note, let's take a look at the five managers under whom Lionel Messi has netted the most goals:
#5 Frank Rijkaard - 42 goals
Kicking off our list in fifth place is the manager who introduced the world to Lionel Messi. Frank Rijkaard served as Barcelona manager from 2003 to 2008, overseeing the development of many youth players from La Masia.
One of those future superstars just so happened to be a young kid from Argentina. The Barcelona hierarchy were thoroughly impressed by Lionel Messi's brilliant dribbling skills and goalscoring antics at the club's youth levels. Subsequently, Rijkaard was compelled to include Lionel Messi in the Barcelona first-team back in 2004.
Having inherited a club in crisis, Rijkaard was able to stage a turnaround following his appointment. His distinguishable tactics, coupled with support from youth prospects like Victor Valdes and Lionel Messi, paved the way for Barcelona's resurgence. Under his tutelage, the Argentine managed to score 42 goals, marking the beginning of a legendary career.
#4 Tito Vilanova - 60 goals
Assistant manager to Pep Guardiola during his time at Barcelona, Tito Vilanova was instrumental in the club's eventual success. His brilliance was lauded by Guardiola himself, with the two geniuses sharing a bond that goes beyond football.
Following the Catalan's departure, Vilanova took over Barcelona and was unconsciously handed the Herculean task of mimicking his predecessor's success. The former La Masia graduate responded in emphatic fashion, amassing 100 points in his debut campaign as Barcelona romped to the La Liga title.
Lionel Messi famously admitted that Vilanova was the first coach at the club who showed trust in his abilities. The Argentine repaid his manager's faith by scoring a mind-boggling 60 goals in just 50 appearances.
Their splendid partnership could only last one season, with Vilanova taking voluntary leave to tend to his deteriorating fitness. Unfortunately, the legendary coach lost his life to cancer in 2014. His legacy lives on in Barcelona, years after his untimely passing.
#3 Ernesto Valverde - 112 goals
Despite winning four trophies and mentoring Lionel Messi in two of the most prolific seasons of his career, Ernesto Valverde was a highly controversial figure at Barcelona. Having joined the club in 2017, the Spaniard was unceremoniously ousted from his job mid-season in 2020.
Under Valverde, Barcelona achieved great success on the domestic front, winning back-to-back La Liga titles. He even tutored Lionel Messi to grab 112 goals under his tenure, with his 2018-19 campaign being the standout one for the Argentine. Valverde managed Messi for a total of 124 games.
His consistent failures in Europe eventually resulted in his undoing, with Barcelona crashing out in humiliating fashion under him. Valverde was responsible for two of the most embarrassing defeats in the club's history, infamously losing out to Roma and Liverpool in successive seasons. Considering the magnitude of his blunders, they will always cloud the Spaniard's numerous accomplishments at Barcelona.
#2 Luis Enrique - 153 goals
Another Barcelona manager with strong historical links to the club, Luis Enrique enjoyed a fruitful career at Barcelona. First as a player, then as a manager, Enrique never failed to win over the hearts of Culers all across the world. He was appointed Barcelona boss in 2014, following a disastrous spell under Tata Martino.
In his debut campaign, Enrique guided a star-studded Barcelona side to Champions League glory, winning the treble along the way. Spearheaded by the fabled trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, the Blaugrana were practically unplayable in his maiden season.
The Spaniard masterfully unlocked the formula to proficiently utilize the mythical trio at his disposal. Lionel Messi arguably benefitted the most from his free-flowing tactics, scoring 153 goals in just three seasons under the manager. With Barcelona a shadow of their former self right now, the club have reportedly considered Enrique to helm their current project.
#1 Pep Guardiola - 211 goals
The man who truly transformed Lionel Messi into the world-beater we know today, Pep Guardiola was responsible for the most successful period in Barcelona's history. With Lionel Messi as the focal point of his squad, the Catalan manager achieved unparalleled success from 2008 to 2012.
After the dismissal of the aforementioned Frank Rijkaard, club president Joan Laporta boldly made the call to hand over the club's reigns to an inexperienced Guardiola. At the time of his appointment, the Spaniard had only managed the Blaugrana's B-team, and therefore, his installment was considered to be an enormous risk.
Safe to say, the gamble paid off handsomely, with Guardiola winning a whopping 14 titles in four seasons. He famously masterminded the fabled sextuple-winning season in his debut campaign. Even so, Lionel Messi remains his most valuable contribution to football to date.
Under him, the Argentine blossomed into one of the best players to ever lace a pair of boots, scoring 211 goals in just 219 games. Through sheer luck, the world was able to witness the link-up of two of the most influential people in football, a partnership that may never be replicated in the future.