As Lionel Messi takes the field for Barcelona, he “goes out to assassinate the goalkeepers,” according to Willy Caballero, who acknowledges that his fellow Argentine is still on a “mission” to locate the target.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has made a habit of doing exactly that over the years, with a stunning return of 663 appearances for the Blaugrana having several records crumble around the all-time great.
Caballero, the Chelsea goalkeeper, has played against and alongside Messi over the years and is well-positioned to judge what makes the mercurial 33-year-old so remarkable.
Caballero, who has played for Argentina national teams and in La Liga during his career, told 90min: “Facing Messi, I had to endure. He sets out to kill the goalkeepers. He’s trying to injure the goalkeepers and defenders. The killing also entails scoring as many goals as possible.
It doesn’t matter if you know him, if you’re an Argentine, or if you’re a friend. He’ll speak to you afterward, greet you, and do something else, but he’s on a quest to reach you with goals in those 90 minutes.”
Throughout his career, the iconic South American scored 467 La Liga goals in 511 games, putting him at the top of Spain’s all-time list.
Messi has hit the back of the net 120 times in the Champions League, trailing only his eternal foe Cristiano Ronaldo (134).
He has 54 goals in the Copa del Rey, with the prospect of more to come, and has scored 71 goals in 142 appearances for Argentina.
Barcelona’s talismanic captain has retained stunning expectations in what has been a demanding campaign at times.
He tops the chase for the Pichichi Trophy with 23 goals and 29 combined attempts, as well as 11 assists.
Questions over his prospects at Camp Nou remain as his lucrative deal nears the end of the duration, but new contracts are being discussed, and a major career decision will be taken before the 2020-21 season concludes.