Lionel Messi is one of the best players in the history of football. Despite not winning a FIFA World Cup, Argentine fans rank him on par with 1986 World Cup winner Diego Maradona. Messi, also known by the nickname 'La Pulga', won the Copa America in 2021. It was his first major trophy at the international level.
Messi made his senior debut for Argentina in 2005, aged 18. The PSG forward has scored 80 goals in 158 appearances for La Albiceleste. The playmaker has also provided 53 assists for his nation.
Lionel Messi is an all-time Argentine Legend
The seven-time Ballon d’Or is the all-time top scorer for Argentina, and the only thing eluding him is the FIFA World Cup. With the 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled for later this year, Messi has pinned his hopes on finally winning the trophy.
Although the former Barcelona talisman hasn’t been hugely successful in international tournaments, he has produced phenomenal individual displays. Here are Lionel Messi’s five most prolific calendar years with Argentina.
Lionel Messi has been highly consistent throughout his career. However, he was in his prime during the early 2010s, and 2013 was one such year. Messi had scored six goals and recorded four assists in his seven appearances for Argentina.
The 2021 Copa America winner didn’t lose a single game in 2013. Against Guatemala, Messi scored a splendid hat-trick and assisted the other goal in a 4-0 win. He was involved in three goals in Argentina’s 5-2 victory over Paraguay.
During the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ecuador, the “Little Magician” scored one and set up his teammates for the other two goals. Needless to say, Messi was at the top of his game leading up to the World Cup that took place in Brazil.
Lionel Messi came really close to winning the Copa America Centenario in 2016. After being an unused substitute in the first game, he played all four matches leading up to the final. The left-footed winger scored five goals and recorded four assists.
The finals against Chile was a cagey affair that went to penalties. All 22 shots (18 by Argentina and four by Chile) during the 120 minutes were off target. Leo had little to no impact on the game and missed his spot pick. Argentina lost the shootout 4-2.
Messi’s Argentina may have lost the final, but he had a great tournament at an individual level. Messi was a straightforward pick in the Team of the Tournament. Overall, he scored eight goals and registered six assists in 2016.
Lionel Messi was unlucky not to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The “Atomic Flea” scored four goals, assisted one goal, and was simply sensational during the tournament. Argentina lost against Germany in extra time in the final courtesy of a Mario Gotze goal.
Messi’s brilliance at the World Cup earned him five Man of the Match awards in just seven games. His fruitful displays earned him a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament, partnering Thomas Muller in a two-man attack.
In 2014, Lionel Messi played a total of 14 matches, two of which came from the bench. The right-winger had eight goals and four assists to his credit in 2014. A favorable result in the FIFA World Cup final would have made the year even more memorable.
Lionel Messi finally quenched his thirst for a major international trophy in 2021 as he got his hands on Copa America. As expected, the technically gifted player had a significant hand in his nation’s victories. The PSG star scored four times and had five assists under his belt in seven games.
The Argentina skipper scored the joint-most goals alongside Luis Diaz. Messi was adjudged Best Player for his outstanding contributions in Argentina’s triumph. His exploits in Copa America eventually led to him winning his seventh Ballon d’Or.
2021 was a mixed year for Argentina’s record appearance maker. Although he didn’t have a great year at club level, the Copa America trophy made up for it. He scored nine goals and recorded five assists in 2021 with Argentina.
2012 will go down as Lionel Messi’s most prolific year. The then-Barcelona star was simply unstoppable as he went on to score 91 goals for club and country. Twelve of those strikes came for La Albiceleste, which comfortably made it his most productive year with his nation.
In 12 appearances for Argentina, the ten-time La Liga winner scored 12 goals. Although his one assist was nothing compared to what he produced in other years, Messi’s strikes more than made up for his lack of assists. Messi had a goal-to-game ratio of 1.
He racked up two assists in 2012, one each against Switzerland and Brazil. The forward also scored a brace in Argentina’s 3-0 win over Uruguay. Messi was in a completely different league compared to other players in 2012, which is solidified by his international record.