Less than a week after he celebrated his 33rd birthday, all-time legend Leo Messi netted his 700th career goal in all senior level competition. He is now one of only seven players in world football history to reach the dizzying plateau that features a who’s who of the greatest to ever play the international game.
The Argentine entered the hallowed club after his club was given a penalty kick opportunity a few minutes after the start of the second half during a key league matchup against Atletico Madrid. He approached the stripe and knocked the ball with a nice paneka twist that easily bypassed Jan Oblak.
Beyond the fact that it’s just incredible to witness Messi reach this mark in the first place, there are undeniably some things that make this moment all the more special. We as football fans always laud Messi for being one of the greatest one-club players in any sport. He’s played for Barca’s first team for so long that I personally don’t remember a time when he wasn’t at least a bench player. And over that incredible 16-year span, he’s scored an insane 630 goals. If you compare that mark with all the other members of the 700 club, Messi is not only the only one-club man, but he also has the most goals while appearing for a single side. Not even the immortal Pele, who scored 619 with Santos, has as many as Messi.
Now that is not to disrespect what Messi has done on the international stage. As of writing, the Argentine maestro has the third most caps with 138 and has the most goals for his country with 70. He is one of only 18 players around the world to ever reach that mark.
It’s impossible to see the future, of course, but if Messi continues to play at the legendary level he has been playing for so long, there should be little doubt that he could start to knock off some absolute gods of the game very soon. While he currently sits 7th all-time right now, he will soon eclipse guys like Gerd Müller and Ferenc Puskas (yes, that Puskas) in the next couple years. After those two, he’ll be looking up to a pair of Brazilians in Pele and Romario, and eventually the king of goals himself Josef Bican, who’s the only member of the 800 goal club.
The final player he’s going to have to challenge is a man he knows all too well, Cristiano Ronaldo. As of right now, CR7 currently rests 6th all time with 727 senior side goals. And just like with Messi, there is no indication that Ronaldo is anywhere close to the end of his domination. He’s also in a league that may help him buff his numbers a tad more than in La Liga, but not by a rate that should be too noticeable.
This race to 800 between Messi and Ronaldo very well could be the final time we as football fans get to witness the greatest player to player rivalry in the sport’s storied history. And I for one will be ready with the popcorn.
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Featured Image Credit – FCBarcelona.com