Lionel Messi is one of the greatest footballers of all time and most footballers consider it a great privilege to have played alongside him.
The Barcelona legend has left an indelible mark on the beautiful game and has etched his name into Catalonian folklore. He has won the most number of Ballon d'Or trophies and has been a cut above the rest ever since he broke into the professional circuit.
Lionel Messi is one of the last one-club legends and has plied his trade only for Barcelona although there is a possibility that he might leave the club this summer. He made his debut for Barcelona in 2003 and over the course of the last 18 years or so, he has played alongside some of the finest footballers on the planet.
He has also played with some lesser-known players and also some players who have not really made an impact playing with him. On that note, let's take a look at five players you probably didn't know played with Lionel Messi.
5 players you didn’t know played with Lionel Messi
#5 Maxi Lopez
Argentine Maxi Lopez is 37 now currently plies his trade for Italian club Sambenedettese and is leading quite a low-profile football life. But there was a time when Lopez had risen to prominence.
After a breakout season at River Plate, Barcelona roped him in during the January transfer window in 2005 for €6.2 million and he got the chance to play alongside Lionel Messi in the frontline.
Lopez scored on his Champions League debut against Chelsea but it all went downhill from there. He was brought in as a stopgap solution after Henrik Larsson had picked up an injury. However, after his debut strike, he scored just one more goal and that was in the Copa Del Rey against Zamora.
He couldn't nail down a spot in the starting XI and was loaned out to FC Moscow for the 2006-07 season before being sold to them next summer.
#4 Henrik Larsson
Swedish striker Henrik Larsson currently serves as an assistant manager for Barcelona. Larsson played for a variety of clubs in his impressive career and has even represented Manchester United and Barcelona on the big stage.
Henrik Larsson joined Barcelona in 2004 and spent two seasons at the Camp Nou, scoring 13 goals from 40 games. His first season was disrupted by a serious injury which led to Barcelona signing Maxi Lopez.
Lionel Messi was still an upcoming star at the time and Larsson's greatest contribution for Barcelona came in his final game. The Swede was brought on as a substitute in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final against Arsenal and he assisted both of Barcelona's goals that night.
#3 Giovanni van Bronckhorst
Giovanni van Bronckhorst was one of the best Dutch footballers in the opening decade of the 21st century. Bronckhorst joined Barcelona in 2003 on loan from Arsenal and then went on to make his stay permanent.
Bronckhorst stayed at Barcelona for four seasons in total and was a regular for the first-team when Lionel Messi was still being gently integrated into the first-team. Under Frank Rijkaard, Bronckhorst shone and played some of the finest football he has in his career.
Bronckhorst won two back-to-back La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League with Barcelona before eventually leaving the club to join Feyenoord in 2007.
#2 Lilian Thuram
Legendary French defender Lilian Thuram has enjoyed an extremely successful career, winning the World Cup and several other top-flight titles across France, Italy and Spain. Thuram spent his final years as a professional footballer at Barcelona.
He joined Barcelona after Juventus were shockingly relegated to the Serie B. Way past his prime, Thuram started serving Barcelona as the third or fourth-choice centre-back behind Carles Puyol, Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito.
Thuram could slot in at right-back and centre-back and interestingly enough, he has played alongside Lionel Messi during his two-year stint at the Camp Nou. Thuram had to call it quits on his football career after he was diagnosed with a heart defect that had caused the death of his brother.
#1 Mark van Bommel
Mark van Bommel is considered a Bayern Munich legend and rightfully so. He spent his best years in Germany and most people even forget that he was a first team regular for Barcelona albeit for just one season.
Mark van Bommel joined Barcelona in the summer of 2005 and left for Bayern Munich at the end of the 2005-06 season. He enjoyed a highly successful year at the Camp Nou as the Catalans went on to win the La Liga title, the UEFA Champions League title and the Supercopa de Espana.
The Dutchman was rotated with the other talented Barcelona midfielders like Xavi, Deco, Iniesta and Motta and he impressed in a holding role. He played 24 La Liga matches for Barcelona and appeared in 12 cup games as well.
Mark van Bommel was thus an important part of the Barcelona squad back when Lionel Messi was still trying to make a mark, and was largely coming off the bench as a substitute.