Lionel Messi

Messi 'never imagined' his success

Despite being overlooked for the 2018 Ballon d'Or, Messi has enjoyed another wonderful year, having helped Barca to another LaLiga crown in the 2017-18 campaign.

He scored 34 times in 36 games on the way to inspiring that title triumph, a record not matched across Europe's top leagues as he secured yet another Golden Shoe.

Messi, 31, was presented with the prize for a fifth time – usurping Cristiano Ronaldo's tally of four – on Tuesday and it offered him the opportunity to reflect on his expectations as a youngster.

Capello slams Ronaldo, Messi

Messi was a controversial absentee from the Best Men's Player nominations, with Luka Modric scooping the top prize ahead of Ronaldo and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

And Capello has slammed Ronaldo and Messi, who were both included in the FIFPro World XI, for not appearing at Monday's ceremony in London.

"It is a lack of respect, for the players, for FIFA and for the world of football," Capello told TVE.

"It is possible that they won too much and do not like to lose. In life you have to be good when you win and when you lose."

World Cup: Messi scores 100th goal

With Argentina needing to beat Nigeria on Tuesday in St Petersburg to have a chance of qualifying for the last 16 at Russia 2018, the forward gave his side a 14th-minute lead.

Ever Banega's lofted throughball was ideally placed for Messi to impressively control and hammer home a right-footed drive to put Jorge Sampaoli's men in front.

Messi had failed to score in Argentina's two previous Group D games, missing a penalty in a 1-1 draw against Iceland and proving toothless as his side were thumped 3-0 by Croatia.

Messi could retire, says Zabaleta

Messi cut an isolated figure as Argentina fell to a humbling 3-0 defeat to Croatia in their Group D clash on Thursday, making a premature exit a distinct possibility for the two-time champions.

Zabaleta, who was part of the team that reached the 2014 final, believes the Barcelona star could call time on his international career should they fail to progress to the last 16.

"I just feel so sorry for Lionel Messi," he told the BBC.

Messi plans to return in Spain friendly

The Barcelona star sat out the 2-0 win over Italy at the Etihad Stadium last Friday after admitting a muscle problem had been bothering him "for some time".

However, the 30-year-old hopes to feature against Julen Lopetegui's side at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"I was excited to be able to take part in the game against Italy, but I'm happy with the group's meet-up, I have good feelings," he told Fox Sports.

"In principle, the idea is to play against Spain. I'm going to see how I am."

Barcelona 3 Chelsea 0

The sides were locked together at 1-1 after Messi's equaliser in the first leg of the last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge and Antonio Conte's men held their own for long periods once again, only to be undermined by uncharacteristic defensive errors.

Messi scored the earliest goal of his professional career in the third minute, with Ousmane Dembele opening his Barcelona account in style to ground an encouraging Chelsea response.

Suarez, Messi reach milestones

The striker scored twice against Quique Setien's side to become only the second Uruguayan to manage a century of goals in Spain's top flight, after former Atletico Madrid man Diego Forlan, who scored 128 in his career.

Lionel Messi was also on target twice after Ivan Rakitic had put the league leaders ahead just before the hour mark to secure a win that stretches their lead at the top to 11 points.

The match saw Messi reach two more personal milestones of his own, the Argentina star having assisted a goal in five LaLiga matches in a row for the first time in his career.

Messi breaks Muller goal record

The Barcelona superstar, who equalled the tally while making his 400th LaLiga appearance for the Calatan giants against Levante last weekend, netted his 366th goal in Spain's top flight against Real Sociedad on Sunday.

Messi's left-footed free-kick from 25 yards saw him overtake Muller's haul of 365 Bundesliga strikes for Bayern Munich.

Germany great Muller set the previous record while representing Bayern between 1964 and 1979, scoring his 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches.

 

Photo Getty Images. Caption: Barcelona star Lionel Messi

     

Messi, Dembele train for Barca

Ernesto Valverde has already confirmed France winger Dembele will not be risked on Saturday, but his involvement is an encouraging sign of his return from a hamstring injury.

Training footage released by Barca painted a different picture to the scenes at their bitter rivals, where Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to join his team-mates.

The star forward, who is reported to have picked up a calf problem in the Club World Cup final, was confined to light work away from the main squad for the second day in succession.

Messi can lead Argentina to World Cup success – Riquelme

After battling through qualifying, Jorge Sampaoli's men are not considered among the strong favourites for Russia 2018.

However, Riquelme – who was capped 51 times by the national team – believes Argentina could contend if Messi performs, having been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

"We hope that we do well, that the players get well and above all Messi," the Argentinian told El Trece.

"If the latter happens, Argentina will have many chances to win. If Messi is good, nothing is complicated.