Saturday night's hat-trick against Sevilla made Lionel Messi the greatest goal scorer in the Spanish game, but how far can he go in the all-time goal scoring chart?
At 27, the Argentine has 379 career goals in 473 matches. According to Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation, the current record holder for most goals is Josef Bican.
Bican, the great Austrian-Czech striker, scored a ridiculous 805 goals in competitive matches in a career spanning two-and-a-half decades (1931-56). He needed just 530 games to amass that staggering total, meaning he scored 1.5 goals every time he laced up to play an official game.
Bican is followed by the Brazilian duo of Romario and Pele, who scored 772 and 767 goals, respectively. Hungary's Ferenc Puskas (746) and Germany's Gerd Muller (735) round up the top five.
Trajectory of Messi's Career In Numbers
Messi currently has 379 goals and is a long way off Bican's numbers – which, to be honest, seems like an impossible number to match for anyone ever. Can Messi crack the top 10 at least? The man sitting on the 10th spot is James McGrory, whose haul of 550 goals certainly seems like a gettable target for the Barcelona superstar.
Of course, it all depends on the longevity of his career. The average retirement age of a professional football player is 35. This gives Messi at least eight more years. Since turning pro, he has played an average of 40 games per season. Applying his goal-per-game rate of 0.83 over the next eight seasons (40*8) gives us a total of 267 goals. Add that to his 379, and the total adds up to 646.
That sum is good enough to land him in the No. 6 spot on the all-time goal scoring list ahead of the current No. 6, Ferenc Deak who has 576 goals.
However, these predictions are based on assumptions and averages. They give a rough idea that while Messi might have broken Zarra's Spanish record, he'd have to up the ante even more to break into the top five greatest goal-scorers' list. He is already scoring at a rate of goal per game, so it's hard to expect more improvement on that front.
Is There Any Way Past Bican's Record?
Perhaps, if Messi goes on to have an extra long career like Romario's and spends his final few years in lower leagues, he might come close to Bican's Herculean tally. But realistically, he shouldn't be looking any higher than that sixth place.