Lionel Messi is used to being number 1 in Barcelona. Hours before his contract with the club expired, he felt this way while wearing Argentina’s T-shirt at the Copa America.
Messi, 34, has some of the best stats so far in the South American championship. On Monday, he limited the group stage with two goals and an assist in Argentina’s 4-1 victory over Bolivia.
Messi’s contract with Barcelona expires on June 30 after 17 seasons. The Argentine striker won a record six Balon d’Or awards at the Catalan club, where he is the all-time leading goal scorer with 672 goals in 778 appearances. But he has yet to lift a big title with his national team. Messi leads the Copa America goals list with three goals in four games. He gave two assists as much as the Brazilian Neymar.
SofaScore sports site puts him at the top of the tournament so far in successful dribbles (21), shots on target (10), total number of duels won (40) and off-field goals (2).
There was some magic to Messi involved in the long-range goals, including his curling free kick in the 1-1 draw with Chile and his perfectly timely shot over Bolivia goalkeeper Carlos Lampe on Tuesday. This victory coincided with his record 148th international appearance in Argentina.
The Argentine captain helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles and 10 Spanish league titles, among many other trophies. He has left a place in his trophy. Before the start of the Copa America, Messi tried to distance himself from the debate over whether or not to stay in Barcelona.
“I am always available to my national team. “My biggest dream is to win a title with this shirt (Argentina),” Messi told a news conference. “I have been very close many times. It didn’t happen, but I will keep trying. I will always fight for this dream. “
The next step is a quarterfinal against Ecuador. A victory will secure a semi-final match against Colombia or Uruguay. Defending champions Brazil could then be the last hurdle for Messi’s bid to finish No. 1 after the July 10 final at Maracana Stadium.