Over 550 goals for Barcelona, 65 for Argentina, four champions league wins and five ballon d'Ors - it's incredibly difficult for anyone to argue against Lionel Messi being, if not the greatest, at least one of the greatest players of all time. Messi achieved these accolades by continuously performing to a ridiculously high standard.
Just when defenders think they have the answer, Messi changes the question whether it's his dazzling dribbling, his frazzling free kicks or just his fantastic finishing - Barcelona fans have been blessed by witnessing the best of Messi live in person. This upcoming season will mark Messi's 15th season in a Barcelona shirt, therefore we'll be focusing on his greatest performances during his tenure at the club and attempt to narrow them down to five. Let's take a look at his finest performances.
#5 - Vs Bayer Leverkusen (2012) - Messi makes history
Leverkusen came into the game needing to overturn a 2-goal deficit from their first leg loss but they started poorly with Barcelona peppering their goal throughout. Goalkeeper Bernd Leno made two great saves to deny Messi and Gerald Piqué and looked almost unbeatable until Messi was put through after an exquisite pass from Xavi and chipped the German keeper in style. Messi then picked up the ball on the right-hand side danced in-and-around three defenders before burying the ball into the bottom corner to double Barça's lead.
Remember the chip I mentioned earlier? The Argentine replicated his first goal this time being put through by Fabregas under pressure from the defender and Messi executed an inch-perfect chip with his "weak foot" to leave Leno stranded to give himself a hat-trick. Christian Tello then added a fourth before Messi was gifted his fourth. A double one-two with Pedro was fantastically defender by Leverkusen as the Argentine looked to burst through. However, Leno couldn't grasp the ball following Daniel Schwaabs challenge and Messi slotted home to make it 5-0.
Tello then added his second to make it 6-0 following another mistake from Leno before Messi picked up the ball on the edge of the area and curled it past the German shot-stopper to make Champions League history and is still the only player to score five goals in a Champions League knockout game.
Substitute Karim Bellarabi scored a fantastic consolation goal to make it 7-1 but Barcelona ultimately ran out 10-2 winners on aggregate.