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When did Lionel Messi’s output peak?

It has been 15 years since the debut of a certain number 30 for FC Barcelona. He razzled and dazzled past defenders of the highest calibre and enthralled the world with his skill and ability. Of course, I am talking about Lionel Messi. Messi has broken quite the number of records, including:

  • Having won the most Ballon d’Ors (six)
  • The most goals and assists in La Liga 
  • The most goals in a calendar year
  • The most goals in a league and Champions League season
  • The most hat-tricks in the Champions League
  • The second player to achieve 20+ goals and 20+ assists in the same season

Amongst many, many others…

Lionel Messi’s role has transitioned from a winger to a false nine, to becoming a creative playmaker and a prolific goalscorer. He has become the most complete form of footballing genius. 

The following graph will look at how Lionel Messi has evolved over the years as a goalscorer and playmaker from season to season.

Messi’s Goals and Assists visualised

The most goals he scored in a season is 50 in the 2011/12 season. Since 2009/10, however, he has been consistently putting up similar numbers as a player. The transition in roles from manager to manager is also quite clear. The two of his highest goal-scoring seasons in the years 2011, 2012 and the first half of 2013 were when he was playing in the false nine roles. In this role he was an unstoppable goalscorer, making the most progressive runs, most progressive passes and providing the largest attacking output for a player in the 21st century. 

When you look at the seasons from 2017 onwards, when Ernesto Valverde took over, there is a clear pattern of increasing assists for Messi. This is because both Valverde and Setien allowed Messi to play as a trequartista, where Messi dropped deeper to collect the ball and penetrated defences with splitting dribbles or sublime through balls. When looking at Goals + Assists per 90, it is clear that Messi’s best season is the 2012/13 season, where he put up 1.94 goal contributions per game, which is an unreal amount for any player.

When looking at Messi’s statistics overall, it is clear that he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all time. He has been at a consistently high level for goal scoring and for playmaking by creating chances for his teammates and finishing the chances with ease.