Lionel Messi‘s arrival to MLS is imminent with Inter Miami set to unveil the Argentine on Sunday.
And with US TV rights holders desperately battling it out to air a portion of Messi’s presentation at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale in three days’ time, fans eagerly wait for the moment when the 36-year-old is holding the Herons’ pink home kit with Inter Miami owner David Beckham by his side.
But his eventual decision to make the switch to Miami was widely communicated in June, as confirmed by Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who said he couldn’t bring back the World Cup winner due to financial constraints.
That same month, Miami shared a video on their social media hinting at the club’s signing of Messi, although it wasn’t confirmed that one of the greatest players of all time had officially put pen to paper with the MLS side.
Lionel Messi, 36, is leaving Europe after 19 years and spending the last two seasons at PSG
Messi’s MLS arrival is so anticipated by fans that a mural of him has been painted in Miami
Messi spent 17 years with Barcelona before leaving due to financial restrictions in 2021
Messi’s won it all at club level and also on the international stage after winning the World Cup
Messi later confirmed his intention to join Miami in a joint interview with Spanish outlets Mundo Deportivo and Sport, in which he said that they ‘haven’t closed it 100 percent.’
But last week Miami finally revealed more details as they invited media to a ‘major unveiling event’ on July 16 and this week the team announced season ticket members can attend Messi’s unveiling for free.
Here, Mail Sport ranks Messi’s best goals throughout his career prior to his blockbuster move to the US.
1. Getafe – semifinal first leg of 2007 Copa Del Rey (5-2 win for Barca)
Considered by many as the best goal scored by Messi, he received the ball from within Barca’s half, right before the halfway line on the right-hand side and dribbled past four Getafe players before he rounded the keeper to score in the 28th minute.
Messi was 19 years old at the time and went on to score a brace in that same game.
Unfortunately for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and his teammates, Getafe went on to surprisingly win the second leg by a 4-0 scoreline, knocking out the Blaugrana 6-5 on aggregate, before losing to Sevilla, 1-0, in the final.
Messi scored an incredible goal that involved beating four Getafe players to score in 2007
2. Real Madrid – 2010-11 Champions League semifinal, first leg (2-0 win for Barca)
‘A mere supernatural goal from Messi,’ as commentator Peter Drury pointed out at the time. Messi picked up the ball from a little within Real Madrid’s half to play a one-two with Sergio Busquets, who is set to also be unveiled as a Miami player on Sunday, before dribbling past Lassana Diarra, Raul Albiol and Marcelo to strike the ball into the net, leaving Iker Casillas motionless.
La Pulga’s second goal of the night was the nail in the coffin for Madrid, led by Jose Mourinho at the time.
Messi’s solo effort is deemed as his best goal ever against Real Madrid and one of the best goals in El Clasico history.
To this day, fans wonder how Messi’s goal didn’t win the Puskas award that year.
The little Argentine went on to finish as Europe’s top scorer with 12 goals that year, before eventually winning his third Ballon d’Or a few months later.
‘A mere supernatural goal from Messi,’ said Peter Drury during Barca’s 2-0 win vs. Real Madrid
3. Athletic Bilbao – 2015 Copa Del Rey final (3-1 win for Barca)
Messi received a pass five yards into Bilbao’s half before dribbling past four players and working his way into the opposition’s box to cut inside and striking the ball into the bottom-right hand corner.
The superstar’s mazy run has been labeled as one of the finest Copa Del Rey goals ever.
That same season, Messi scored 57 goals at the Nou Camp, but this goal, in particular, was nominated for the Puskas award at the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or ceremony before eventually finishing runner-up to a bicycle kick by Wendell Lira for Goianesia in the Brazilian third division.
Messi won his fifth Ballon d’Or in 2015 at only 28 years of age after a Treble-winning season with Barca (La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League).
Messi celebrates after scoring Barcelona’s opening goal during the Copa del Rey Final in 2015
4. Real Betis – 2018-19 LaLiga (4-1 win for Barca)
It’s pretty rare to see a player score an audacious chip from approximately 18 yards out but with Messi anything can happen… and of course, he proved that theory to be correct in a 4-1 win against Real Betis during the 2018-19 season, when he completed a hattrick with a spectacular chip over goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
Messi started off the move by passing the ball to a Barcelona teammate shortly after a corner before demanding to get the ball back and going for the spectacular from just inside Betis’ penalty box.
Coached by Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona only won LaLiga by the end of the 2018-19 season, but Messi was prolific as ever, wrapping up the year with 51 goals across all competitions (36 in LaLiga), deemed as enough for him to win his sixth Ballon d’Or over Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi points to the sky after scoring an 18-yard chip goal against Real Betis in 2019
5. Real Zaragoza – LaLiga 2009-2010 (4-2 win for Barca)
In the 66th minute, Messi outmuscled former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera to win the ball, before skipping past two opponents and then charging towards goal.
He twisted and turned to evade two more defenders before lashing the ball past the goalkeeper and into the bottom right-corner, leaving the game’s commentators stunned.
‘You’re just lost for words,’ said one of them. ‘This man is brilliant. George Best, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, they’re all getting outshone by this incredible little man.’
The co-commentator replied: ‘Well, I’ve said it so many times this season, he’s the best on the planet – and that’s one of the reasons why.’
Messi was only 22 years old at the time yet was already showing signs that he was set to become one of, if not the greatest player of all time. He wrapped up the 2009-10 season as LaLiga’s top goal scorer with 34 goals, winning his second Ballon d’Or and LaLiga Best Player award.
He was also voted as the Argentine Football of the Year for the fourth time in a row by the end of the season.
Messi shoots to score the second goal against Zaragoza during Barcelona’s 4-2 away win
6. Liverpool – 2018-19 Champions League semifinal, first leg (3-0 win for Barca)
Despite Liverpool winning the tie 4-3 on aggregate, Reds fans won’t want to watch this sublime free-kick goal again… as it’s fair to say that Messi probably scored one of the best goals ever against the Reds in the history of the Champions League.
With the ball placed 35 years out away from goal, Messi unraveled a belter of a free-kick that beat Allison and landed in the top right corner of the net.
What made the goal sensational is the angle from which Barca’s No. 10 struck the ball… another show of wizardry from the World Cup winner.
It was also Messi’s 600th career goal across all competitions, since making his debut for Barcelona at the tender age of 17.
Messi, of Barcelona, watches as his free-kick scores to give Barcelona a 3-0 lead in the 82nd
7. Athletic Bilbao – La Liga 2012-13 (2-2 stalemate)
Coming off the bench in the 58th minute following fears of a hamstring injury picked up in a midweek game, it only took Messi eight minutes to score one of the best goals of his career.
He dazzled past three Athletic Bilbao defenders before precisely powering a low drive into the right-hand corner to give Barca life in a match where the Blaugrana were trailing 1-0.
As Scottish commentator Ray Hudson said of Messi after the goal was scored: ‘Are you kidding me… this man is absolutely mainland to pure footballing magic that belongs…in a different galaxy altogether than we are living in.’
Messi celebrates scoring the equalizer during LaLiga match involving Barcelona and Bilbao
8. Eibar – LaLiga 2016-2017 (4-2 win for Barca)
Messi picked up the ball from just inside his own half after Luis Suarez’s shot was saved by Eibar goalkeeper Yoel from close range.
He controlled the ball, dribbled past three opposition players before striking a low drive to the bottom right corner of the Eibar goal.
Messi’s solo goal wasn’t enough for Barca to win LaLiga that year as the Blaugrana finished second in the league, trailing Real Madrid by three points. Earlier in the game against Eibar, Messi scored a penalty in the 75th minute.
Coached by Luis Enrique, Barcelona only won the Copa Del Rey and the Supercopa de Espana that season.
Messi ended up scoring 54 goals in all competitions in 2016-17, including 37 in LaLiga, finishing as the league’s top scorer.
Messi dribbled from almost the halfway line and past three Eibar defenders to score in 2017
9. Bayern Munich – 2014-15 Champions League semifinal, first leg (3-0 win for Barca)
It’s one of the most iconic moments in Champions League history and of course it was made by Messi at the expense of Jerome Boateng.
Ranking this goal ninth on the list doesn’t do it justice, but just watch as Messi electrifies the crowd with his dribbling and chip over one of the best modern goalkeepers in Manuel Neuer.
Messi and his teammates went on to win Europe’s ultimate prize with a 3-1 win against Juventus after defeating Bayern 5-3 on aggregate despite losing the second leg 3-2.
Messi scored an audacious chip against the best goalkeeper at the time in Manuel Neuer in ’15
10. Brazil – 2012 friendly (4-3 win for Argentina)
More than 80,000 fans saw Messi score a hattrick against the national team considered to be the best historically in international competitions – Brazil – at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on June 9, 2012.
He was up against an up-and-coming Neymar when both South American rivals put on a show but it was Barca’s No. 10 who had the last laugh when he dribbled past Marcelo from just inside Brazil’s half before cutting into the final third and striking the ball into the top-right corner to give Argentina the lead in the 84th minute.
All things considered, it was a friendly, yes, but how many players can say that they’ve scored a hattrick against Brazil?
Not that many…
Messi made Brazilian players dance, scoring off a solo effort in a 2012 friendly