Ronald Koeman said Barcelona have a great future but called for patience after their 5-1 Champions League rout of Ferencvaros.

Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were all on target for Barca, who made a winning start in Group G on Tuesday, while Gerard Pique was sent off in the second half.

Barca are coming off a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which saw the club dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The embattled Spanish powerhouse turned to Netherlands boss Koeman and the Dutch head coach has overseen just one loss in five competitive matches this season.

"We play different," Koeman told reporters after Barca became the first team ever to have two goalscorers aged 17 or under in a single Champions League match thanks to Fati and Pedri.

"We have made changes on the team, we have made changes on the squad, we have chosen young people, so we can't expect more from this team right now.

"We're good, this team is gonna have a great future, but it must improve. Playing with young players, different tactics…. Be calm, I ask you to give a margin.

"We are going to improve. We can't demand it in two or three weeks, but you'll see that soon the team will play better, will be more comfortable, but we need time."

Antoine Griezmann was an unused substitute at Camp Nou, where Koeman opted to use Pedri and Dembele off the bench after Trincao started alongside Messi and Fati.

Messi became the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns after his 27th-minute penalty opened the scoring for Barcelona.

Fati doubled the lead with a volley as he became the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before celebrating his 18th birthday.

On Griezmann's absence, Koeman – whose Barca face Madrid in Saturday's Clasico – added: "We look for the best eleven for each game, today we have opted for Trincao playing wide, and then Ousmane [Dembele] in order to have depth on the wing.

"Let's see Saturday, it will be another game. It's my job to prepare the team and have the best squad for each moment."

Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati said he is continuing to learn from superstar captain Lionel Messi after setting a Champions League record on Tuesday.

It was a record-breaking night as LaLiga giants Barca opened their Group G campaign with a 5-1 rout of Hungarian visitors Ferencvaros at Camp Nou.

Messi became the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns after his 27th-minute penalty opened the scoring for Barcelona.

Fati doubled the lead with a volley as he became the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before celebrating his 18th birthday.

"Messi is still Messi," Fati told Movistar post-match. "He can score in any action. 

"We are very happy to have him here with us and I continue to learn from him."

"We start with a good victory, we have to continue like that," Fati added. "It's [his goal] thanks to all my team-mates, they make things easy for me. It's a fantastic pass from Frenkie [De Jong] and I just had to push the ball."

Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were also on target for Barca, while defender Gerard Pique was sent off in the 68th minute.

Barca are the first team ever to have two goalscorers aged 17 or under in a single Champions League match thanks to Fati and Pedri.

"It's good for the team, it means we're good," Fati replied when asked about Barca's attackers scoring goals.

"The more competitive there is between us, the better. We all come out better."

Barca will now turn their attention to Saturday's Clasico showdown against bitter rivals and defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

Madrid, who have a game in hand, are third and one point behind Real Sociedad, while Ronald Koeman's Barca are four points off the pace, having only played four matches.

"I approach it with maximum enthusiasm," said Fati. "It's a Clasico, I've always dreamed of competing in it."

Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus all made winning starts to their Champions League campaigns as the group stage got up and running.

Tuesday's headline fixture saw two heavyweights in a head-to-head Group H clash, as United saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 thanks to Marcus Rashford's late strike. The England forward's last three goals in the competition have all come on the road, with the last two netted at Parc des Princes.

The victory means United, who have also now scored a record nine Champions League own goals thanks to Anthony Martial's mistake, have won 10 consecutive away matches in all competitions for the first time.

Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring with his 11th spot-kick for United. Since 2012-13, PSG have conceded more penalties (18) and more penalty goals (13) in the Champions League than any other side.

Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman became the fifth manager to take charge of at least six teams in the Champions League – after Carlo Ancelotti (eight), Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez (all six) – as his Barca side took on Ferencvaros.

It finished 5-1 to the five-time European champions, with Lionel Messi converting a 27th-minute penalty to become the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns in the process.

Ansu Fati doubled Barca's advantage before the break, making him the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before turning 18. Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele completed the rout.

Elsewhere in Group G, Juve overcame Dynamo Kiev thanks to Alvaro Morata's maiden Champions League double, while Andrea Pirlo became the third Bianconeri coach to win his first away game in charge in the competition.

Frank Lampard experienced his first 0-0 draw as Chelsea manager in a stalemate with Sevilla.

From players in the top five European leagues, only Tottenham star Harry Kane (eight) has provided more assists this season than Borussia Dortmund's Giovanni Reyna (four), though Erling Haaland's latest effort that came with a little help from his team-mate arrived in a 3-1 defeat to Group F rivals Lazio.

Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati were on target as Barcelona opened their Champions League campaign with a thumping 5-1 win over Ferencvaros at Camp Nou on Tuesday, although Gerard Pique was dismissed for the hosts.

Ronald Koeman's side suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Getafe in LaLiga at the weekend and looked shaky in the early stages against their Hungarian opponents, who were making their first appearance in the Champions League group stages for 25 years.

Messi's penalty shortly before the half-hour mark settled any nerves, though, while Fati doubled their advantage in the 42nd minute.

Philippe Coutinho added a third early in the second half before Ihor Kharatin pulled one back for the visitors from the penalty spot after Pique had been dismissed for bringing down Tokmac Nguen inside the area. Barca had the final say, however, substitute Pedri scoring his first goal for the club eight minutes from time and Ousmane Dembele adding a late fifth.

Ferencvaros were far from overawed in the early stages against their illustrious opponents, twice going close to taking the lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

Nguen had a fine strike ruled out for offside before Isael crashed a powerful drive against Neto's crossbar from 10 yards.

They were left to rue those close calls in the 27th minute when Messi powered home from the spot after he had been tripped in the area by Adnan Kovacevic.

It made the Argentina international the first player in Champions League history to score in 16 consecutive seasons.

Fati was denied by the outstretched leg of Denes Dibusz but then got the better of the Ferencvaros goalkeeper three minutes before the interval, steering a volley inside his left-hand post after a sublime looped pass from Frenkie de Jong.

Fati turned provider for Barca's third seven minutes after the restart, Coutinho receiving his impudent back-heeled pass before sending a deflected effort past Dibusz.

Kharatin restored some pride for the visitors 20 minutes from time after Pique clumsily hauled down Nguen as he entered the penalty area following a ball over the top.

Any hopes of a dramatic comeback were extinguished, however, as Pedri turned home from 12 yards and Dembele thundered home from Messi's pass in the final 10 minutes to seal a comfortable three points.

Lionel Messi became the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns after his penalty opened the scoring for Barcelona against Ferencvaros.

Barca were 2-0 up by the interval at Camp Nou, with Messi scoring from the spot in the 27th minute and Ansu Fati volleying in a second.

Messi's strike means the Argentine superstar has now netted in Europe's elite club competition in 16 consecutive seasons.

No player in Champions League history has scored in more campaigns overall than Barca's number 10, who is level with Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs in that regard.

While Messi may be entering the twilight of his Barca career, one player who is at the other end of the spectrum is 17-year-old Fati.

With his 42nd-minute effort, the Spain international, who enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season last term, became the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before turning 18.

Fati added an assist shortly after the restart, turning provider for Philippe Coutinho to make it 3-0 to Ronald Koeman's side.

The Champions League returns this week after a short hiatus, with beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain looking to get back up and running – and exact a measure of revenge – against Manchester United.

Juventus begin European competition under new head coach Andrea Pirlo, who faces one of the most experienced coaches in the game in Mircea Lucescu.

Barcelona will endeavour to banish memories of August's 8-2 obliteration by Bayern Munich when they face Ferencvaros for the first time, while Chelsea will hope to improve the poor record Premier League teams have had of late against Sevilla.

Here's the key data from Tuesday's matches in Europe's elite competition...

Dynamo Kiev v Juventus: Pirlo feeling the weight of history

Twice a Champions League winner with Milan in 2003 and 2007, Pirlo's first game in the competition comes away to Dynamo Kiev. None of the previous eight Juve head coaches have lost their first match in charge.

In fact, Juve have only been beaten on matchday one in the competition once in 20 previous seasons, winning 11 of those games and drawing eight. That one defeat was a 3-0 loss at Barcelona three years ago.

Dynamo boss Lucescu will be 75 years and 83 days old on Tuesday, making him the oldest coach in Champions League history, overtaking Jupp Heynckes (who was 72 and 357 days old in May 2018). If he wants to celebrate in style, he will need to inflect just a fifth group-stage defeat on Juve in 34 games.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Mbappe chasing Messi record

PSG's last home defeat in the competition was that famous loss to United in the 2018-19 round of 16, when Marcus Rashford's late penalty secured a 3-1 win for an understrength Red Devils and sent them through on away goals.

If they are to start their quest for a return to the final with a win, Mbappe might be the man to do it. He has scored 19 goals in the tournament and, at 21 years and 305 days old, he needs just one against United to become the youngest player to reach 20. That would surpass Messi's record, set back in 2010 when he was 22 years and 267 days old.

Of course, if United's unsteady defence focuses on Mbappe, they risk leaving Neymar unchecked. Only Messi (45) had more carries with a take-on in last season's Champions League than Neymar (36), and nobody progressed further with the ball than the Brazil star (1,279 metres).

Barcelona v Ferencvaros: Koeman's worrying numbers

Barca have not lost any of their previous 31 home group games since Rubin Kazan stunned Pep Guardiola's men 2-1 back in October 2009. When you consider Ferencvaros have not been in the competition since 1995-96, when they conceded 19 goals in six matches, you would not expect that Barca run to be stopped.

However, coach Ronald Koeman heads into his first European game in charge with a pretty poor record. The fifth coach to take charge of at least six teams in the competition, after Carlo Ancelotti (eight), Claudio Ranieri (six), Jose Mourinho (six) and Rafael Benitez (six), he has the worst win ratio (26.3 per cent) of anybody to manage at least 50 games in the tournament.

Still, he has Messi. The Barca captain has been involved in at least one goal in 38 of his previous 43 group-stage starts, scoring 56 times and assisting 16.

 

Chelsea v Sevilla: Can Werner lift English spirits?

Sevilla, who knocked United out of last season's Europa League semi-finals, have won all three major European matches against teams from England. Chelsea, meanwhile, have taken one victory from their previous nine Champions League meetings with teams from Spain, drawing five and losing three.

Frank Lampard will hope Timo Werner can make the difference. The forward was involved in nine goals in his last 11 Champions League games for RB Leipzig (seven scored, two assisted) and could become the third German to score for Chelsea in the competition, after Michael Ballack (four goals) and Andre Schurrle (two). He has, however, never scored at home.

Other fixtures:

Lazio v Borussia Dortmund:

3 – Dortmund's last Champions League win in Italy was a 1-0 victory over Milan in March 2003, courtesy of a Jan Koller goal. They have lost all three such visits since.

8 – Only Robert Lewandowski (10) scored more group-stage goals last season than Erling Haaland (eight). Haaland averages a goal or assist every 50 minutes in the competition.

 

RB Leipzig v Istanbul Basaksehir:

6 – Istanbul Basaksehir are the sixth Turkish team to play in the Champions League. Only one of the previous five won their first match – that was Trabzonspor, who beat Inter 1-0 away in September 2011.

14 – RB Leipzig's Hwang Hee-chan created the most chances in open play in the Champions League group stage in 2019-20 (14) when he played for RB Salzburg. He was directly involved in six goals in his six group-stage appearances (three goals, three assists) and was one of two players to both score and assist three goals in the group stage, along with Kylian Mbappe.

 

Rennes v Krasnodar:

2 – Rennes have lost just twice at home in major European games, winning five and drawing seven of those 14 matches, all of which were in the UEFA Cup/Europa League between November 2007 and December last year.

36 – Krasnodar boss Murad Musayev is 36 years and 345 days old, the second-youngest coach in this season's competition (behind Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, 33). He could become the fifth-youngest to win his first game and the youngest since Andre Villas-Boas in September 2011.

 

Zenit v Club Brugge:

11 – Artem Dzyuba has been directly involved in 11 goals in his 12 Champions League group-stage matches with Zenit (eight goals, three assists). That run includes goals in both games against Belgian side Gent in 2015-16.

19 – Of the 51 teams to have featured in at least 40 Champions League matches, only Steaua Bucharest (9.5 per cent), Dinamo Zagreb (11.9 per cent) and Anderlecht (16.7 per cent) have a lower win percentage than Club Brugge (19 per cent). They have won just eight of 42 matches.

Ronald Koeman admits Lionel Messi's form "could be better" but insists he has no complaints about the Barcelona captain's application.

Messi attempted to leave the club during the transfer window but was unable to engineer an exit after something of a power struggle played out in public with president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

He has since affirmed his commitment to the Catalans for at least the final year of his contract, but his performances have not been up to his usual standards in 2020-21.

In four LaLiga matches, Messi has scored just once - a penalty in the 4-0 win over Villarreal last month - and has zero assists.

He has created just six chances, well short of the league-leading numbers of David Ferreiro (22), and only five from open play, eight fewer than Sevilla's Jesus Navas (13).

With 11 dribbles completed from 19 attempts, Messi has a success rate of 57.9, well down on last season's average of 64.3, which further highlights his relative struggle to impact upon Barca's play - a problem that came to a head in their 1-0 loss to Getafe.

However, speaking ahead of their first Champions League group game against Ferencvaros, Koeman made it clear he is happy with Messi's efforts and believes the player himself is feeling positive.

"There is always pressure to win games as a player or coach at Barcelona. We know the club's situation; there are things outside the pitch that we can't influence," he said on Monday.

"What we can do is work with the players to adjust to the new system and we have a lot of new and young people, but we're optimistic about the game tomorrow. I think the best way to think right now is game by game.

"Maybe Messi's form could be better at this moment, but he's happy, he's training well, he's focused, he wants to play and he wants to be captain of the team and he's improving. I haven't got any complaints.

"He also had bad luck with the ball that hit the post and with the final play of the match. Normally, he puts it between the posts! I have no doubt about his form and we'll see that in the coming games.

"I'm not worried because we've scored eight goals in four games and I don't think many teams have done that. It's normal that, against Sevilla and Getafe, it's more difficult to create chances.

"I'm not disappointed with the players. I see a happy team. I can never be disappointed with a player who works their hardest."

Given Barca's 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in last season's quarter-finals, Koeman accepts his side are unlikely to be considered firm favourites for this term's trophy.

However, he is keen to get their campaign off to a strong start in a week that ends with the first Clasico of the season at Camp Nou.

"We know that, with what happened last time, we're not the ultimate favourites, but we can go far," he said. "You always play to win games and trophies at Barca, in Spain and in Europe, but there are more favourite teams, like us.

"We want to start the Champions League on the right foot. The most important thing is to prepare for two difficult matches at home that we have to win.

"It's not an easy game and we don't think about resting people for Saturday because Saturday isn't important right now, only tomorrow is."

Lionel Messi is the world's best player because he is "always a step ahead of everyone else", according to Inter striker Lautaro Martinez. 

Martinez had been tipped to join his compatriot at Barcelona during the transfer window, but the Catalans were unable to strike a deal with the Nerazzurri even after Messi had ended his attempt to leave Camp Nou. 

Still, Messi and Martinez have played together for Argentina since the latter made his international debut back in 2018. 

The 23-year-old says he always tries to learn from the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – a player he claims understands football on a different level to his contemporaries. 

"I know Leo more from the times we've been team-mates for the Argentina national team rather than from having come up against him," Martinez told UEFA.com. 

"I've said it in the past and will say it again now and in the future: he's the best player in the world. The fact he's Argentinian is a source of pride for us and we always try to learn from him. 

"For me, he's on another level – he understands the game in a different way and he's always a step ahead of everyone else." 

Inter are preparing to get their Champions League campaign underway on Wednesday, when they host Borussia Monchengladbach at San Siro. 

Martinez remembers watching Jose Mourinho's treble-winners defeat Bayern Munich in the final in 2010, when compatriots Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel all played. 

Zanetti, who is now Inter vice-president, was hugely important in helping Martinez settle in Italy after his move from Racing two years ago. 

"Javier is a very important Inter man, and for us [players] as well because he passes down to us everything he's experienced at this club," Martinez said. 

"He did so to me when I first came to Italy. Whenever I've needed something, he's always tried to help me. He always lends an ear and asks how I'm doing or gives me a hand with anything I might need. 

"He's always there to make sure I'm alright inside the club and outside too. Above all, he helped me with the language when I arrived, with what the club meant and how we train. He was very important in those matters, so I'll always be grateful to him. He really helped me out when I got here." 

Will Manchester City land Lionel Messi?

City were reportedly close to luring Messi to the Premier League during the previous transfer window.

Messi remains at Barcelona, but City are believed to be planning another move.

 

TOP STORY – CITY CONTEMPLATING MESSI MOVE

Manchester City are considering an offer to prise Lionel Messi from Barcelona in January, according to the Daily Star.

Messi handed in a transfer request at the start of the season and the Barca captain was tipped to join City before opting to remain at Camp Nou.

Pep Guardiola's City, however, have not given up on Messi as they eye a £15million (€16m) bid for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner – who was also linked to Juventus, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain previously.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Mirror claims Barca are eyeing January moves for Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and City defender Eric Garcia. Lyon captain Memphis Depay has also been linked.

Liverpool and Tottenham are set to battle it out for the signing of Leeds United's £50million midfielder Kalvin Phillips, reports the Mirror.

- The Sun says Manchester United are circling for Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde. United believe a swap deal involving Paul Pogba could be possible due to Valverde's £640m (€705m) release clause.

N'Golo Kante has no intention of leaving Chelsea, according to Le10 Sport. The France international has been linked to Inter and Madrid.

Ronald Koeman suffered the first defeat of his reign as Barcelona failed to capitalise on a shock loss for Real Madrid, slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Getafe. 

With El Clasico looming on the horizon, reigning champions Madrid were stunned by newly promoted Cadiz as LaLiga resumed on Saturday following the international break.

However, Barca missed the chance to move level on points with their rivals ahead of next Saturday's showdown at Camp Nou. 

Jaime Mata's 56th-minute penalty was enough for Getafe to secure a first league win over their illustrious opponents since a similar 1-0 result back in November 2011, a run of 16 games. 

Lionel Messi struck a post and Getafe captain Djene Dakonam was spared from scoring an own goal by the crossbar, but - after starting his reign with back-to-back wins - Koeman has now seen his side pick up a solitary point from their next two outings, laying bare the size of the task on his hands. 

Ousmane Dembele made his first start of 2020 and there was also an opportunity handed to teenager Pedri from the outset, suggesting the new boss will show faith in youth during the rebuilding job required. 

Still, it is a big-money signing who will once again come under the spotlight, Antoine Griezmann squandering his team's best chance to leave him still without a goal at club level in the early stages of the 2020-21 season. 

The French forward wastefully blasted over when clean through in a first half consistently punctuated by the sound of referee Cesar Soto Grado's whistle, with five players shown yellow cards. 

Getafe had rarely threatened before Frenkie de Jong helped them out, the midfielder clumsily catching Dakonam inside the area as he rushed in attempting to win the ball. 

Mata duly converted from the spot – sending Neto the wrong way – and the dogged hosts held firm to their slender advantage through to the final whistle. 

In an eventful finish to proceedings not in keeping with the rest of the contest, Juan Hernandez blazed over at one end before Getafe were saved by the woodwork in stoppage time, Barca unable to find a late leveller their performance scarcely merited.

Antoine Griezmann has hinted at displeasure with his role at Barcelona under Ronald Koeman but the new head coach will not cave in.

During the international break France boss Didier Deschamps questioned Koeman's decision to deploy Griezmann on the right wing of a 4-2-3-1 during Barca's first three LaLiga games of 2020-21.

The 29-year-old has registered just one shot on target for the club this season and is yet to create a single chance for a team-mate.

After playing behind a front two of Anthony Martial and Kylian Mbappe in France's 2-1 win over Croatia on Wednesday, Griezmann told TF1: "The coach knows where to put me."

Koeman told reporters at a news conference to preview Saturday's meeting with Getafe that Griezmann must focus on producing his best display wherever he is used.

"Everyone has the right to say what they want. I spoke to him yesterday, but not because of what he said. We talked about his position and his performance," said Koeman on Friday.

"I seek what's best for the team, and if I think that he's better on the right wing with more freedom, that's it.

"He can also play as a number 10 or a nine, but in the end I decide for the good of the team and every player must give their maximum performance for the team."

Asked how Griezmann can improve, Koeman said: "He is doing all he can, which is to work hard, to be disciplined and have some luck. There were four or five attacks in which he had to do better.

"When I was Netherlands coach and we played France, he played on the right. No further discussion is needed on this topic. The coach is in charge and must get the most out of the players.

"I have no problem with Antoine. I never play anyone in a position they can't play. If there's another position that you like, well, we cannot play with 10 players in the number 10 position."

With a Champions League game against Ferencvaros and the first Clasico of the season against LaLiga champions Real Madrid to come next week, Koeman does not intend to use the Getafe game to rest Lionel Messi.

Messi played 180 minutes – including 90 at an altitude of 3,650 metres in La Paz – as Argentina began their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with wins over Ecuador and Bolivia.

"It always depends on the player. I ask how they are, if they are tired. This afternoon we have our last training session and we will decide the team for tomorrow," said Koeman.

"He is a player who if he does not play is more tired. He's a winner who always wants to play, but I want to talk with him and the others and see how they are physically.

"He has been playing a very tight schedule for many years. If there is a medical issue or fatigue it is different, but he is capable of playing the next important games that lie ahead."

First-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is yet to feature this season after undergoing surgery on his knee and was reportedly aiming to return in time for El Clasico.

However, Koeman does not expect Ter Stegen to be ready for the meeting with Madrid.

"Since Tuesday, he has been training on the pitches and everything is going well for now," said Koeman.

"I don't think he'll be ready for the Clasico. There is no need to set a date. He is a great goalkeeper but we are calm. We are happy with Neto's work."

It was 16 years to the day since the world was first treated to a competitive glimpse of Lionel Messi as a fresh-faced teenager in the famous Barcelona jersey.

Few could have imagined that his appearance as an 82nd-minute substitute for match-winner Deco in a 1-0 victory at Espanyol would be the first step towards a career many consider the greatest of all time.

Since that day, Messi has won 10 LaLiga titles, the Copa del Rey six times and the Champions League on four occasions, as well as becoming an unprecedented six-time winner of the prestigious Ballon d'Or award.

To mark the anniversary of Messi's LaLiga debut, we have analysed the Opta numbers behind a genius. 


A CLASS OF HIS OWN

During his 16 years in Barca's first team, Messi has become the club's all-time leading goalscorer with a whopping 635 in total.

Of that number, 445 have come in LaLiga, which means he also has the most in the history of Spain's top flight. Messi has 115 in the Champions League, 53 in the Copa del Rey, 14 in the Supercopa, three in the UEFA Super Cup and five in the Club World Cup.

His first Barcelona goal came against Albacete on May 1, 2005, with fellow superstar Ronaldinho setting him up.

The Argentina great enjoyed his most prolific campaign in the 2011-12 campaign, when he scored 73 goals across all competitions for Barcelona. There were an eye-watering 79 across the calendar year in 2012.

As well as his extraordinary goals return, Messi also has 254 assists for Barca – 183 of which have come in LaLiga and 33 in the Champions League.


LOVE FOR PEP, TITO AND SEVILLA 

It should come as little surprise that some of Messi's best returns in a Barca jersey have come playing in the golden era of Pep Guardiola.

In total, Messi had 211 goals and 79 assists in 219 games played under the now-Manchester City manager – an average of 0.96 goals per game.

He also excelled under Luis Enrique, winning the second of his career trebles. There were 153 goals, 66 assists and a goals-per-game ratio of 0.97 in that period.

But it was actually Tito Vilanova for whom Messi returned the best goals per game, a mind-boggling 1.2, having scored 60 in 50 appearances.

As many as 79 different teams have conceded to Messi but none have picked the ball out of the net on more occasions against the Argentina great than Sevilla, who have done so 37 times.

Atletico Madrid are not far behind on 32, while Valencia have conceded 28 times to Messi and fierce rivals Real Madrid 26 – making him the highest scorer in Clasico history.


LUCKLESS ALVEZ, SUAREZ AFFINITY AND GLORY AT THE BERNABEU

Not many goalkeepers can say they have got the better of Messi and Diego Alves in particular has not enjoyed encounters against the mercurial forward.

Messi scored past the former Valencia stopper on 21 occasions, with Gorka Iraizoz next on the list - having shipped 18 to the Argentina captain. Iker Casillas and Andres Fernandez have been beaten 17 times.

At Barca, Messi has played alongside some of the best players of his, or indeed any, generation.

But no player has assisted Messi more than Luis Suarez, who has now left Barca for Atleti, with the Uruguay star setting up his former team-mate on 47 occasions.

Dani Alves ranks second on 42, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi laying on 37 and 31 respectively.

Camp Nou is of course the venue where Messi has scored the majority of his goals but the Santiago Bernabeu is next highest, with the 33-year-old having celebrated 15 strikes there.

The Riazor is where Messi has his best goals-per-game ratio at 1.63, scoring 13 times in eight games played at the home of Deportivo La Coruna.


THE OPTA FACTS

- Messi is the all-time LaLiga scorer with 445 goals, becoming second-highest scorer in the top-five European leagues after Cristiano Ronaldo (450). 

- Since 2008-09 to 2019-20, Messi has scored 30-plus goals in each of his 12 campaigns.   

- He is the only player to score 10-plus goals in LaLiga in 14 consecutive seasons, netting 50 goals in 2011-12, the most by a player in a single season in the competition's history. 

- Messi scored in 21 consecutive LaLiga games between November 2012 and May 2013, the best run of any player in Spain's top flight. 

- As well as being the all-time top-scorer in El Clasico with 26 goals, Messi is the leading scorer in the Catalonian derby against Espanyol (25 goals). 

- He is one of the two players in Champions League history to score 100+ goals (115), alongside Ronaldo (130). 

- Messi was the first player to score five goals in a single Champions League match, versus Bayer Leverkusen in March 2012 at Camp Nou. 

- He is one of the six players to reach 50-plus goals in the Copa del Rey (53 goals) and one of the two to have scored in five different Copa del Rey finals after Telmo Zarra.

Lionel Messi said he is less obsessed with scoring goals these days as the Barcelona and Argentina superstar eyes team success.

Messi stands alone atop the all-time goalscoring charts for both LaLiga giants Barca and powerhouse South American nation Argentina.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner improved his record-setting international tally to 71 goals after netting in Argentina's 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Ecuador last week.

But Messi is prioritising team objectives, telling La Garganta Poderosa magazine: "Today I am less obsessed with scoring. I try to do my best for the team."

Messi is Barcelona's all-time leading goalscorer with 635 in total, having debuted for the Spanish club in 2004.

Of those goals, 445 have come in LaLiga – a league record ahead of next best and former Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (311).

The 33-year-old has also scored 115 Champions League goals, to go with 53 in the Copa del Rey, 14 in the Supercopa de Espana, three in the UEFA Super Cup and five in the Club World Cup.

Since debuting against Espanyol 16 years ago, Messi has won 10 LaLiga trophies, six Copa del Rey titles and the Champions League on four occasions.

In 2020-21, Messi has one goal through three LaLiga fixtures as Barca – under new head coach Ronald Koeman – look to bounce back following a tumultuous campaign, which saw the club dethroned by bitter rivals Madrid and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Messi remains at Barca, despite handing in a transfer request at the start of the season amid strong links with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.

Lionel Messi would have no issue adapting to any other league but the "romantic" idea of the Argentina great remaining a one-club man with Barcelona is appealing, says Gaizka Mendieta.

There was a time when the idea of Messi, Barca's all-time leading goalscorer, departing Camp Nou would have been unthinkable.

But such a notion was a very distinct possibility during a tumultuous period following Barca's humiliating 8-2 exit at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League in August.

Messi provided Barca with a message notifying the club of his intention to leave, citing his belief that a clause in his contract allowed him to depart on a free transfer.

Both Barca and LaLiga disputed his interpretation, stating any potential suitor would have to pay the €700million fee release clause or negotiate a fee with Barca.

Consequently, Messi opted to remain at Barca, stating he did not want to drag the club through the courts. But he hit out at president Josep Maria Bartomeu, before striking a more conciliatory tone, vowing to give his all for the team in the new LaLiga season.

Mendieta, who spent a season with Barca in the 2002-03 campaign, told Stats Perform: "Regarding what happened, it is already in the past. 

"We can go into details, but Leo has always shown he is a professional. He has shown it for many years."

Speaking while launching the Player 4 Player management group, Mendieta said: "I think all Barcelona fans, his team-mates and people who work for the club, know Leo will give his 100 per cent this season.

"Whether he leaves or not at the end of the season, the fact is he is here, he has stayed, and he will give his best. I don't think other thoughts are correct.

"The most important thing is having him, he is a professional and he will give all as he has been given all the time. That's the key for Barcelona and his fans."

Barca's reluctance to lose a player considered by many as the greatest of all time is obvious given Messi has scored 635 goals and provided 254 assists in all appearances for the club.

As well as being Barca's all-time leading scorer, he also holds that same benchmark in LaLiga having found the net 445 times in Spain's top flight.

One argument against Messi's claims to be the best ever, albeit a rather weak one, is that he has not proven his talent in another division.

Joining Manchester City for a reunion with his former Barca boss Pep Guardiola was seen as the likeliest outcome had Messi left Camp Nou, and Mendieta was unequivocal in his belief a player of his talent would flourish elsewhere.

"Messi would get adapted everywhere. He has already shown many times. On the left, On the right, in the middle, being a striker, being an offensive midfielder, and even being a midfielder," Mendieta said.

"So, a player who reads and understands football as he does, he will not have any issue in any country or any club he joins."

But is it a scenario the former Spain international, now a prominent pundit, would like to see?

"I do have mixed feelings. On one hand, I did play in different leagues and seeing him competing in another league, I would like it," Mendieta said.

"But on the other hand, I do feel the romantic side of watching a player like him starting and finishing his career at the same club. We seldom see that nowadays and I have that feeling, that nostalgia of seeing this.

"It also means both sides have done properly, when a footballer keeps playing for that long a time with the same club.

"Especially a player with the profile of Leo who normally you believe he would be attracted by millionaire bids.

"Therefore, I think I would rather see him staying at Barca forever than seeing him playing in another competition."

Joaquin Correa came off the bench to score the winner as Argentina came from behind to defeat Bolivia 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Argentina fell behind in the altitude of La Paz, which is situated at 3,650 metres above sea level, when Marcelo Moreno Martins found the back of the net after 24 minutes.

Parity was restored before half-time as Jose Carrasco's clearance cannoned in off Lautaro Martinez, who became the first Albiceleste player not called Lionel Messi to score in a World Cup qualifier since November 2016.

Correa replaced Lucas Ocampos just before the hour mark and fired home the winner with 11 minutes remaining, with Argentina claiming their first victory in Bolivia for 15 years.

Martins had a chance to put Bolivia ahead in the sixth minute but headed Saul Torres' looping delivery wide with Franco Armani scrambling.

Bolivia threatened regularly and got their reward when Martins was left in space by Lucas Martinez Quarta and nodded Alejandro Chumacero's cross beyond Armani.

Leandro Paredes saw a curling 20-yard strike crash back off the post before Argentina drew level in bizarre circumstances when Carrasco's laboured attempt to clear Martinez's cutback ricocheted in off the Inter attacker.

Argentina sat back after the restart and looked to counter-attack as Bolivia went in search of a second goal.

Chances were at a premium until Messi's delightful throughball fashioned one for Martinez in the 75th minute. However, his cross-goal effort from the right side of the area was turned behind by Carlos Lampe.

There was nothing Lampe could do to keep out Correa, though, with the goal allowed to stand after a VAR check confirmed Martinez was onside from Messi's pass, meaning Argentina left with maximum points from their two qualifiers.

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