As well as claiming more defenders’ ankles than Ballons d’Or and regularly defying science with the wizardry he produces on the pitch, Lionel Messi likes a goal.
Most La Liga goals and the record for the most goals in a calendar year, the Argentine is nothing short of mesmerising when he steps out onto the pitch. And while we all keep an eye like a hawk on him at Barcelona, his Argentina exploits aren’t monitored – or appreciated – as much.
Messi sits joint-ninth in the list of all time international top scorers. Here are 30 of his best for Argentina.
A young Messi was fearless in an international friendly to grab his brace and Argentina’s fourth on the night.
One-two, receives the ball inside the box and drops a little fake shot before slotting past the goalkeeper. Subtle genius.
Textbook Messi – albeit rocking bleached blonde hair – ran riot over Colombia in World Cup qualifying.
Opening the scoring in supreme style, Messi whipped a rather central free kick into the top corner, leaving the keeper with absolutely no chance. Like, don’t even bother diving sort of thing.
Seeing a penalty saved after half an hour wasn’t enough to deter Messi as Argentina turned up and demolished Germany in 2012.
Stalking the edge of the box, Messi gets on the end of an inevitable cutback and rifles it tightly into the bottom corner for a wicked finish that gave Argentina their second on the night. Powerful.
The way in which Messi opened the scoring against Nicaragua in 2019 was borderline illegal. Disgusting skill.
In trademark fashion, the little wizard picks up the ball and cuts inside, sending their entire back line for a hot dog with feints before slotting the ball home low into the corner.
Oh look, a hat-trick. How surprising.
The goal that secured Messi the match ball was vintage, and still equally as bewildering. The ball sticks to the man’s feet as he takes a defender out of the game with his first touch, before tapping it home for his third.
Sure, it was a friendly and yes it was from the penalty spot, but it still takes some steel to slot home a winner from 12 yards.
Steel for most, lightwork for Messi. He brushed the ball home late on to secure a victory for Argentina.
Another clutch goal as the medicine man arrives to salvage a goal for his side in a friendly against Mexico to avoid any embarrassment.
Messi watches a long ball come over his shoulder and plucks it out of the air, before volleying it through the goalkeeper’s legs before it could even come down for a touch. Comeback complete, ridiculous goal scored.
The damage was already done when Argentina had put together a 4-0 lead without Messi even scoring. But that doesn’t mean he won’t get in on the fun.
Having started on the bench, Messi came on and headed home his first virtually instantly, before bagging his second in style. Running through the lines and killing a fizzed through ball, his touch leaves the goalkeeper stranded and Messi free to slot into an empty net. Easy.
Messi had to wait to get his hands on Hong Kong in 2014, but made his presence known once he emerged from the bench.
Once on, his first goal of two was a combination of slick, one touch passing, finished off with a subtle dink over a helpless goalkeeper. Have some mercy, Lionel.
Scored twice, set up the other. A dominant performance from the man who was simultaneously tearing Europe apart for Barcelona in the same year.
Of the haul of goal contributions, though, it was a cheeky free kick that Messi bagged against Uruguay that catches the eye. Away from his usual, curled technique, Messi placed it low and snuck it under the wall to score.
Another year, another Messi performance pulling Argentina to victory over Uruguay.
A much closer game, the difference was of course the medicine man. Having reversed his decision to retire from international football after quitting months earlier, Messi was back for good with a vital goal to win a World Cup qualifier for his country.
In his record breaking 2012 that saw him score 91 goals for Barcelona and Argentina, one of those was a finely placed free kick in a 3-1 win against Paraguay.
Messi’s curled technique shouldn’t work from longer distances, but he finds a way to make it look just as effortless. Mesmerising and left Paraguay helpless.
A hat-trick for the man who belongs in the Louvre.
The pick of the bunch as Argentina beat Brazil in New York was his second goal, rounding the keeper and sending fans into frenzy. Brazil could’ve scored 20 goals that day and not won; Messi was in the mood for hunting.
It took Messi just three minutes to spoil the party against Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup. Cheers, Lionel.
A rather unorthodox finish for the magic man, he was first onto a rebound in the box and fired it into the roof of the net for an early lead. Bonus points for a real poacher’s finish.
There was something in his cereal before this match.
Because six goals wasn’t enough, Messi added a seventh in the 84th minute with a ridiculous solo run, gliding past players as though he was on a different wavelength. Oh yeah, probably because he most definitely is.
Another day in 2012, another Messi hat-trick. This time the Swiss felt the brunt of his genius, particularly in the opener.
Linking up with Sergio Aguero, Messi received the ball back and fired one low into the far corner from distance. Laser guided accuracy and a moment of utmost quality in an instant.
Off the back of becoming one of the most impressive World Cup winning sides ever, right in the middle of what would be two wins at the Euros, Lionel Messi brought Spain back down to earth.
The Argentine humbled La Roja and showed them what real magic was in a friendly, balling out with no apologies and dinking one over Pepe Reina in goal. Any sauce with that chip?
A proper trademark Messi goal, against one of the strongest sides in world football.
Picks up the ball in a tight area well away from goal, leaves defenders bamboozled and rifles it beyond Steve Mandanda from an improbable angle to double Argentina’s lead. The Lionel Messi effect.
Even when he’s on the losing side, it’s impossible to get bored watching Messi weave through players like they’re inanimate objects.
His first goal for La Albiceleste was what would become vintage. He picks up the ball from a defensive error, shifts it to the left in the blink of an eye and has it rattling the back of the net before Croatia could realise. This kid looks good.
While Messi’s fearlessness has by no means evaporated as he’s gotten older, there’s just something about watching him in his early years taking on players.
In a 2-1 defeat to Colombia, he opened the scoring after shifting inside from the left and seamlessly cutting through a Colombian defence that otherwise seemed watertight. Nobody else would’ve found the angles he did.
Watching Messi caress a ball from a free kick happens in slow motion.
He hits it with such grace, yet such a lethal whip is always present to make an on target effort incredibly difficult for a goalkeeper. He pulled a ridiculous effort out of the bag against Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup, bending one straight into the top bins.
We’ve had the opener, but Messi’s second was the pick of the bunch in a rampant display against Switzerland in 2012.
To regain the lead for his side, Messi weaved beyond their entire backline and left the keeper helpless as he looped the ball over his head. Sore ankles and confused faces all round. Stop it.
Another entry, another Messi hat-trick of disgusting finishes.
To truly put the game to bed and take home the match ball, Messi shifted onto his left foot, got within proximity of the goal and floated the ball into the top corner. No power needed, just an obscene back lift that was enough to bewilder the keeper and nestle into the net.
We’ve had subtle dinks and very FIFA-esque dinks from Messi, but this one against Mexico in 2007 is just straight up cheating.
Picks the ball up unmarked and instead of trying to blast himself into space and go one on one with the keeper, he loops the ball well into the air, over the keeper and into the far corner of the goal. Still confused by watching it. He’s superhuman.
Dinks are cool, slaloming runs are better. But put one of those runs together with a rocket shot that’s thumped into the top corner for the winning goal, and you’ll struggle to find something more satisfying.
Finishing another hat-trick off in style, Messi secured a late win for Argentina in New York when he barged beyond Brazil’s defence and sent the ball flying into the top corner with no remorse. Astounding finish.
Just be glad we didn’t suggest a Lionel Messi hat-trick drinking game.
Another trio in 2016, another free kick. Messi came off the bench and cruised to his hat-trick with a set piece that kissed the back of the net and lined it with gold, leaving fans amazed and La Albiceleste heading into the Copa America knockout stages. He doesn’t even need a full game.
A friendly between two of football’s most esteemed sides looked destined to end square. Until the Barcelona man pulled some magic out of the hat.
Afforded a yard or two to run into, Messi turned that into magic and left Brazil’s final two defenders tripping over themselves as he blitzed to the left and fired right into the far corner with pinpoint accuracy, deep into stoppage time. From absolutely nothing.
If you could describe a typical Messi goal to a stranger, this is it.
Starts the move on the halfway line, blitzes past the midfield and uses Gonzalo Higuain as a backboard, before bursting through Bosnia’s final line and firing home to give Argentina their second. You know it’s coming, and yet you can’t stop it.
Messi really went clutch at the 2014 World Cup.
With Argentina looking set for a disappointing draw against Iran in the group stages, it was the medicine man to pop up at the death and fire the ball from an unworldly angle beyond everyone and into the back of the net. Minutes remaining. Ice in his veins. 100 defenders wouldn’t have stopped it.
The semi-final of the Copa America, the perfect place for Messi to take centre stage as Argentina’s record scorer.
Did he do it? Don’t bother asking. Not only did he do it, he did so by wrapping the ball over a wall and into the far corner from a free kick. That menacing curler proving impossible to stop once again. The man is a genius.