Lionel Messi is an Argentinian footballer currently at FC Barcelona. Find out more about Lionel in our in-depth biography
Lionel Messi is an Argentinian footballer who currently plays for La Liga side FC Barcelona.
Messi has firmly established himself as a FC Barcelona great after the South American made his debut in October 2004.
Lionel has won eight La Liga titles, four Champions League crowns, the Copa del Rey five times and the Spanish Super Cup on seven occasions.
The South American has been handed the Ballon d’Or five times, which is a record the FC Barcelona star shares with his Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi was sent off inside two minutes of his Argentina debut against Hungary on 17 August 2005.
Leo has lost a World Cup final and two Copa America finals during his 13 years in the Argentina national team. He has scored 61 times in 123 games for Argentina.
• Date of birth: 24 June 1987
• Age: 33 years old
• Place of birth: Rosario, Argentina
• Nationality: Argentine
• Height: 170cm / 5ft 7 ins
• Weight: 76kg / 168 lbs
• Wages: £500,000 a week
• Transfer value: £250 million
• Net worth: $340 million (£242.9 million)
Lionel is a lifelong support of his local team Newell FC. He joined the club’s youth ranks at the age of six.
Messi moved to FC Barcelona in 2001 following a trial in the previous year. His first contract was offered on a paper napkin.
He impressed alongside Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique in the FC Barcelona youth team.
While the aforementioned pair moved to the Premier League, Messi turned down an approach from Arsenal.
At the age of 17 years, three months, and 22 days old, Messi made his La Liga debut against Espanyol in October 2004.
He went on to make a further nine appearances and racked up 77 minutes of first-team football in their remaining games of the 2004-05 season.
Messi scored his first FC Barcelona game against Albacete in May 2005 as the La Liga outfit won the title.
He signed a five-year contract with the Catalan side on 24 June 2005. Following a £150m offer from Inter Milan, Messi committed his future to FC Barcelona until 2014.
Lionel established himself as a regular on the right wing of a front three of Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o wearing the no19 shirt.
He scored an impressive eight goals in 25 games before he tore his hamstring in the Champions League round of 16 against Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge.
Messi missed FC Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in the Champions League final in Paris in 2006. He won the Spanish top flight title for the second successive season.
FC Barcelona struggled in the 2006-07 season but Messi continued to underline his rising status. Leo netted 17 times in 32 games in all competitions.
The Catalan side lost to Liverpool FC in the Champions League to end their defence. FC Barcelona were unable to win a third successive La Liga crown.
In Rijkard’s final season in charge at Camp Nou, Messi was one of the only positives but his season was hampered by persistent injury problems in the second half of the 2007-08. FC Barcelona finished without any silverware, leading to Pep Guardiola’s appointment.
Messi managed to stay injury-free throughout the 2008-09 season under Guardiola.
The Argentina international has scored 38 goals in 51 games in all competitions to help FC Barcelona win the La Liga title, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.
Arguably his best performance of the season came when he scored twice in a 6-2 win against Real Madrid at The Bernabeu in El Clasico in May 2009.
Messi netted in FC Barcelona’s victories over Athletic Bilbao and Manchester United in the Copa del Rey and the Champions League finals.
His salary was increased to €12m and his contract extended until 2016 ahead of the 2009-10 campaign.
Messi won the Spanish Super Cup, the Uefa Super Cup and the World Club Cup in the opening half of the season before he etched his name onto the Ballon d’Or for the first time.
Guardiola switched Messi to a false nine role in the middle of the season. It was a move that proved a masterstroke following 47 goals in all competitions.
FC Barcelona won the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey but lost to Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan team in the Champions League semi-final.
Messi got his revenge on Mourinho in 2010-11’s first El Clasico after the South American netted a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Real Madrid at Camp Nou.
In a season that contained a staggering five El Clasicos, Leo scored a brilliant solo goal in the first leg of their aggregate win over Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final.
Messi was named man of the match after he scored FC Barcelona’s third goal in a 3-1 win over Manchester United in the Champions League final at Wembley. The Catalan side won their third successive La Liga crown.
Lionel finished the season with an incredible 53 goals and 24 assists in all competitions.
In Guardiola’s final season in charge, Messi and his FC Barcelona team-mates finished behind Real Madrid in the title race. He missed a penalty in a loss to Chelsea FC in the Champions League semi-finals.
However, Pep signed off with a Copa del Rey triumph.
Messi succumbed to persistent injuries in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns.
Remarkably, he still managed to win the European golden shoe in successive seasons following a staggering return of 60 goals.
Under former Newell’s Old Boys boss Gerard Martino, Messi struggled to remain fit.
He didn’t win the Ballon d’Or for the first time in four years after the FC Barcelona star finished behind Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, he did become FC Barcelona’s record goal-scorer when he netted his 370th goal against Osasuna on 16 March 2014.
Messi ended the season without silverware after losing to Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final before Atletico Madrid beat FC Barcelona to the La Liga title on the final day of the domestic campaign.
FC Barcelona revamped their starting line-up with the addition of Luis Suarez to complement Messi and Neymar in July 2014.
Under club legend Luis Enrique, Messi fired FC Barcelona to their second treble in six seasons.
Lionel became La Liga’s all-time record goal-scorer when he netted his 252nd goal against Sevilla in November 2014.
Alongside Neymar and Suarez, Messi scored 58 times and the trio contributed a record 122 goals as FC Barcelona won the La Liga title.
Messi scored twice in their victory over Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final before he played a key role in their 3-1 win against Juventus in the Champions League final.
Lio suffered a serious knee problem at the start of the 2015-16 season and didn’t return until November. He helped FC Barcelona beat River Plate to win the Fifa Club World Cup.
His 500th FC Barcelona appearance came in a 4-0 win over Real Betis. In January 2016, Lionel got his hands on his fifth Ballon d’Or title.
The Catalan side won the Copa del Rey crown with a 2-0 extra-time win over Sevilla. However, FC Barcelona were unable to retain their Champions League title.
He finished the season with 41 goals and 23 assists in the 2015-16 season.
Lionel was in prolific form in the 2016-17 campaign.
He netted his 37th Champions League hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Manchester City in the Champions League.
Messi’s 500th goal for Barcelona came in a stoppage time win over Real Madrid on 23 April 2017.
Leo won the Copa del Rey title thanks to a 3-1 win against Alaves.
FC Barcelona managed to reaffirm their title credentials under new manager Ernesto Valverde.
Messi scored twice in a 3-0 win over Juventus in the Champions League in September 2017.
He surpassed Carles Puyol as FC Barcelona’s third-highest appearance maker when Messi made the 594th game for the Catalan side.
His 600th appearance in FC Barcelona colours came in a 3-0 win against Levante in November.
The records continued to tumble when he scored his 600th club goal before taking his tally to 100 goals in the Champions League.
Messi made his Argentina debut as a second-half substitute against Hungary in August 2005. However, he lasted two minutes before he was sent off.
Lionel lost his first Copa America final to Brazil in 2007. 12 months later, Messi was Olympic Gold with Argentina in Beijing.
He struggled to shine at the 2010 World Cup under Argentina legend Diego Maradona.
Messi and Argentina crashed out of the Copa America in the quarter-finals against Uruguay on home soil.
World Cup final 2014
Messi, who was captaining the Argentina team, scored in a 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in their opening group-stage fixture.
He was required to net an injury-time goal in a 1-0 win over Iran in their second fixture before Messi netted twice in a 3-2 victory over Nigeria in their final group game.
The FC Barcelona star created their winner in a 1-0 victory over Switzerland in the round of 16. Messi scored the decisive goal in a 1-0 extra-time win against Belgium in the quarter-final.
After a goalless draw with the Netherlands in the last four, Argentina progressed thanks to a penalty shootout win. However, the tournament ended in disappointment after a 1-0 extra-time loss to Germany.
Messi’s international misery was compounded a year later when Argentina lost to Chile on penalties in the Copa America final. After history repeated itself in the 2016 edition of the tournament, Messi announced his retirement from international football.
He reversed his decision to help Argentina qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Lionel netted his first goal of the tournament in a vital 2-1 win against Nigeria.
Messi has scored 61 goals in 123 games for the Argentine national team.
Messi started dating Antonella Roccuzzo in 2008 but the pair were childhood friends.
The couple have three children Thiago (born 2012), Mateo (born 2015) and Ciro (born 2018).
The pair tied the knot in 2017 in a luxury hotel named Hotel City Center in their hometown Rosario.
Interesting facts about Lionel Messi
• Messi is has won the Ballon d’Or, or footballer of the year, a record five times: a record four consecutive years (2009-2012) and again for 2015.
• Lionel has got his hands on the European golden shoe four times: 2009-10, 2011-12 , 2012-13 and 2016-17.
• Messi scored five times against Bayer Leverkusen in one UEFA Champions League last-16 game in 2012 (a record shared with Luiz Adriano).
• Lionel scored a world record 91 goals in the calendar year 2012.
• Messi was nearly 11 when his grandmother died. She is the inspiration for his trademark celebration, looking up and pointing to the sky.
• Messi was 16 years, four months, and 23 days old when he made his Barça first-team debut in a friendly against Jose Mourinho’s Porto. He made two assists and scored two goals.