The goalscoring exploits of Lionel Messi will endure long after the he hangs up his boots.
With well over 700 net-rustling strikes to his name, Messi has piled up more than a few highlight reel moments across his career and it is difficult to decide which of them are his best.
Here, GOAL takes a stab at compiling his greatest goals of all time, from his days at Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina.
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Getafe | La Liga | April 19, 2007
Messi has hundreds of goals to cherry-pick from, but his La Liga goal against Getafe in 2007 has been heralded as his greatest of all-time.
It is with this goal that he announced himself as a permanent threat in world and European football, a Diego Maradona-like individual effort that saw him dance his way past five Getafe defenders – who all ended in a helpless heap on the floor – before keeping his cool against the goalkeeper, sending him the wrong way and slotting in coolly with a right-footed finish.
On this day in 2007, Lionel Messi scored THAT goal against Getafe at Camp Nou 🤤— GOAL (@goal) April 18, 2021
14 years later and he’s still very much got it 🐐pic.twitter.com/uxOEML6pZh
Albacete | La Liga | May 1, 2005
If his goal against Getafe is his best of all-time, his first for Barcelona – scored as a then-unknown 17-year-old – is notable not for its splendour, but for its significance. Even as a teenager, though, Messi had the composure and confidence of a veteran footballer.
He refused to have his confidence knocked after having his first goal wrongly ruled offside, and latched onto Ronaldinho's pass inside the box just a minute later before volleying the ball over the top of Albacete stopper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. The goal was a sign of the incredible things that were soon to come – and what a way to make your first mark on a club.
Real Betis | La Liga | March 17, 2019
A goal so good that it had opposition fans chanting his name.
It capped a remarkable hat-trick, which also included a brilliant free kick, but Messi's lob against Real Betis was something special. It earned him a Puskas Award nomination in 2019.
Arsenal | Champions League | March 8, 2011
A goal which earned a Puskas Award nomination in 2011, Messi's wonderful scoop and finish against Arsenal will live long in the memory.
Barcelona were trailing 2-1 from the first leg of their last-16 tie against the Gunners, but Messi sprung to the rescue, scoring two goals, but it was the one where he lifted the ball over Manuel Almunia's head in the six-yard box that endures. Poise and assurance.
Real Zaragoza | La Liga | March 21, 2010
With his strike against Real Zaragoza, he offered a display of his very best skills and techniques packaged into one all-encompassing, incredible solo effort.
He was in a class all on his own after scooping up the ball from a tackle on the halfway line before shrugging off multiple defenders, darting towards the box, reducing another defender to a mere sprawling mess on the floor before drilling the ball into the left corner – leaving his team-mates jubilant and speechless.
Lens | Ligue 1 | April 23, 2022
Criticism was never far away from Messi in his first season at PSG, with fans even booing him and Neymar on occasion, but he reminded everyone of his prowess with a wonderful effort against Lens in April 2022. Found in acres of space at the edge of the box by Neymar, Messi looks up before dipping the ball into the top corner. Classic.
Valencia | La Liga | March 14, 2010
It was as if it was a scene straight from an animated film or a cartoon.
As he swerved this way and that with the ball, knocking any and all opposition out of his path like mere bowling pins, he zig-zagged through the opponent's defence before getting the best of the keeper and striking through cleanly. It was the second goal and the most memorable out of his hat-trick against Valencia that finished in a 3-0 win, and a sublime individual effort.
Real Madrid | La Liga | March 20, 2007
A classic El Clasico encounter, Messi netted in stoppage time to nick a point for Barcelona in the dying stages of the game after Real Madrid were sure that they had clinched the win when Sergio Ramos headed home with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Messi wasn't about to concede defeat, however. It was game on. He already scored two equalisers in the thrilling match that eventually ended 3-3, and when it looked like Real Madrid were about to claim all three points, Messi controlled Ronaldinho's pass smoothly and fired past a helpless Iker Casillas to mark his first hat-trick of his Barcelona career in the most grandiose of fashions.
Liverpool | Champions League | May 1, 2019
Messi scored his 600th career goal in spectacular fashion: with a free kick in the Champions League against Liverpool.
He has scored plenty of free kicks in his career, but the sheer audacity of this one marks it out as special. Thirty-five yards out and against Alisson, one of the best goalkeepers of his generation. It rightly won UEFA Goal of the Season.
Lionel Messi's free-kick against Liverpool has been nominated for UEFA Goal of the Season 🤩— GOAL (@goal) July 28, 2019
Can anything beat it? 🤔
Real Betis | La Liga | December 9, 2012
It was 2012 that was Messi's golden year, a year in which he seemingly broke every record imaginable and enjoyed great individual and club success. He set a Guinness World Record with his strike against Real Betis in December – the 86th goal of the calendar year for the Argentine and the most goals scored in a calendar year by any player.
It was a goal scored in typical Messi manner as well, picking up Andres Iniesta's layoff and drilling hard into the far corner to break Gerd Muller's record of 86 goals scored in 12 months.
Deportivo La Coruna | La Liga | April 29, 2018
Messi's hat-tricks are all special, but his three strikes against Deportivo in 2018 ensured that Barcelona won the league title firmly on their own terms. It's the first of the trio that is the most remarkable, a first-time volley into the box parried by Luis Suarez, but the finish and execution was all Messi as it required some neat dribbling for the build-up inside the penalty area.
These were the goals that moved Messi up ahead of Mohamed Salah in the race for the European Golden Shoe.
USMNT | Copa America | June 21, 2016
How do you smash the goalscoring record for your country? With an arrowed free kick, of course. At least, that's how Messi decided to overtake Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's most prolific marksman.
With just over half an hour on the clock, Messi stood over the ball, eyed Brad Guzan's goal, then whipped the ball ferociously into the top corner. As far as record-breaking goals go, it's one of the best.
Brightening your day with a classic 🎞— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 16, 2020
That time Messi became Argentina's all-time top scorer with a perfect free kick against the U.S. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/7rSyIZf9sM
Espanyol | La Liga | May 5, 2012
It was Guardiola’s last game in charge at Camp Nou and Messi marked it by scoring four. It was the goal that completed his 20th hat-trick for Barcelona that was probably the best.
As with so many other strikes it was his first touch that took him past the defender, beaten not by his dribbling but by his sublime control. The shot into the far corner past Cristian Alvarez wasn’t bad either.
Real Madrid | La Liga | October 7, 2012
It was a goal scored from a free-kick, but it was a delectable effort nonetheless. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi scored twice in this thrilling encounter in 2012 that ended 2-2, with the Argentine missing the opportunity to score a hat-trick after firing wide from Alba's layoff.
It's one of his most dazzling and remarkable set-piece efforts, however, fizzing a dipping and low-curling strike over the wall that sent the home fans into thrilled raptures.
Man City | Champions League | September 28, 2021
Goals were not as easy to come by when Messi first moved to Paris Saint-Germain, but he broke his duck in sensational style, with a goal against Manchester City in the group stage of the Champions League in 2021-22.
The Argentine linked up with new team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who laid the ball off for a trademark left-foot curler which left Ederson with no chance. It was later voted 'Goal of the Group Stage'.
Brazil | Friendly | June 19, 2012
It may have been a friendly game in name, but meetings between Argentina and Brazil are rarely mere exhibitions. Nevertheless, Messi put on a show against the Selecao in New York in 2012.
He scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 victory and his winning strike is undeniably up there with the best he has ever scored. Taking the ball from the half-way line, Messi breezily makes his way to the edge of the box before hammering home into the top corner. "We're lucky he's Argentine," said coach Alejandro Sabella afterwards.
¡A 9 AÑOS DE ESTA OBRA DE ARTE DE MESSI! 🇦🇷⚽️🤩— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) June 9, 2021
Un día como hoy pero de 2012, la Selección se quedó con un partidazo frente a Brasil, con esta joya de Leo sobre el final. Fue 4-3 en Estados Unidos. pic.twitter.com/b1t7Rlm4gt
Real Madrid | La Liga | April 23, 2017
With this strike, the celebration was probably as good as the goal itself. Barcelona fought hard in the Clasico in April 2017 at the Bernabeu to make sure that they wouldn't concede the title to Real Madrid just yet, and the game looked on course to end in a 2-2 draw – until Sergi Roberto's Forrest Gump-esque run in stoppage time gave Jordi Albi the opportunity to lay it off to Messi, who finished the strike beautifully from the edge of the area.
It was his 500th Barcelona goal and memorable for his celebration, in which he simply stood in front of the Real Madrid fans, bearing the back of his shirt as they jeered relentlessly. You know the name.
5 years ago today, Lionel Messi held up his shirt to the Real Madrid crowd after scoring a stoppage-time winner in El Clasico.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 23, 2022
Iconic 👕 pic.twitter.com/MFa1VNRMJK
Athletic Club | La Liga | April 27, 2013
There is simply no other player who can execute such fine control of the ball as Messi. After easing coolly past two defenders, he gently toes the ball beyond the Bilbao keeper to level the scoreline in the game.
The strike would have been nothing without Thiago's pass, but it was Messi who did everything for the finished product – an incredible show of magic that only he is capable of.
Real Madrid | Champions League | April 27, 2011
Messi scored both goals in Barcelona's 2011 Champions League semi-final encounter with Real Madrid, but it was his second at Santiago Bernabeu which is considered by many to be one of his best of all time.
Linking up with Sergio Busquets in the midfield, Messi suddenly sets off on a darting run, beating no fewer than four Madrid players before slotting the ball past Iker Casillas with his weaker right foot.
Athletic Club | Copa del Rey | May 30, 2015
Arguably Messi's best solo goal, his strike against Athletic Club in the final of the 2015 Copa del Rey is another which has earned comparisons to Diego Maradona's 'Goal of the Century'.
Receiving the ball in a wide position just inside the Athletic half, Messi produces a quick turn of pace and sets off up the wing. As three opponents close in around him, the Argentine somehow squeezes free, then shifts the ball onto his weapon left foot and blasts home.
Another Puskas Award nomination, but no prize, somehow!
Atletico Madrid | La Liga | February 27, 2012
It's a free-kick that left Thibaut Courtois stunned. He could only watch on helplessly, mouth agape, as Messi delivered one of his finest free-kick efforts. An absolute screamer of a strike, it caught the entire Atletico team by sheer surprise, a wonder-goal floating straight into the top corner. Everyone on the pitch assumed that Xavi was to take the free-kick, but Messi left-footed it straight into the goal – a strike as, described by one of the commentators of the game, that was "out of this world".