The best ever? Messi breaks Gerd Muller’s record

– Scott Tysoe contributed to this report

Now that Lionel Messi has broken the record for most goals (with the chance of scoring more still) in a calendar year, there aren’t that many more records the Argentine can break.


Many are dubbing Lionel Messi as the greatest footballer ever. Photo: Christopher Johnson

On Sunday, December 9th, Messi overtook Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in one calendar year (set in 1972), but that’s not the only record he’s broken.

Last season he broke the world record for goals in a season (73), he broke the record with most goals in a La Liga season (50) and, at the age of just 24, he became the all-time top scorer at Barcelona – beating the 232 goals of Cesar Rodriguez.

I don’t think anyone would argue that Lionel Messi is one of the greatest exponents of football there has ever been. I don’t even think anyone could argue that no matter how hard they tried. His exploits speak for themselves. But whose record is better? Messi’s in the current day or Gerd Muller’s from forty years ago?

If we are truthful about it, the two can’t really be compared. Football is a lot different now to how it was then. Both players played for different teams in different leagues in different eras, but it’s always fun to throw a few stats about.

Messi broke the record by playing in 65 games – games played for Barcelona in La Liga, the Copa Del Ray, the Supercopa and the Champions League, as well as in Argentina’s friendlies and World Cup Qualifiers.

Muller somehow managed to outdo that, reaching his goals in just 60 games playing for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, the DfB Polka, the DfB Ligapolka, the European Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. He also added to his tally by playing for West Germany in both
friendly games and Euro ’72.

Does that mean that Muller’s record is more impressive? Some people like to argue that Messi’s new record isn’t all that impressive because he plays in a team of world class players and that without the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol and co, he wouldn’t have been able to do it. Is that true?

In his record, Lionel Messi has scored around 48% of all the goals Barcelona have scored. Take Messi out of Barcelona and his goals to go with him; ten Barcelona wins would become draws with a further nine wins becoming losses. So can it be fair to say that Messi couldn’t have done it without Barcelona? Looking at those stats it would seem Barcelona would be much worse off without him.

In comparison, Gerd Muller scored 45% of all Bayern Munich’s goal – without them eight wins would become draws and five wins would become losses. Seems both players were pretty vital for their clubs – and equally as vital for their national sides.

Furthermore, in the last calendar year (in which the record is calculated from), Argentina have won 100% of their matches in which Lionel Messi has scored. Not too shabby.

Both players were famous for their talent and both talked about how important the goal was to them and to the game of football. Muller said: “I don’t take notice of the goalkeeper; I take notice of the goal.” Messi said something similar: “The goal – it’s all about the goal. Where is it? Where should I put the ball?”

So are the two records really comparable or do they stand alone? Both are equally impressive feats. Messi does have more goals but it took him more games to get them. Imagine a team the contained both players and the amount of goals they would score.

And you know what else? We never even mentioned Pele!

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