Shattering a 40-year-old scoring record would satisfy most strikers, but not Lionel Messi.
Messi scored his 91st goal of the calendar year against Valladolid on Saturday, creating even more distance between him and Gerd Muller, who had previously held the world record with 85. The only numbers that the Argentine forward truly cares about, though, are the ones in Barcelona’s record.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN reported that Messi voiced his frustration of this past season’s failure prior to breaking Muller’s record earlier this month. He said, "I do not know what went wrong at the end of last season, but we can use the memory to make sure it does not happen again, so that we have more hunger than ever."
After he broke the scoring record, though, his tone didn’t change.
The Associated Press reported that Messi talked about his priorities after the historic feat, and not surprisingly, winning trumped his individual accolades. He said (via Newsday): “The record is nice, but the important thing is the win that keeps us on the patch we want to continue on.”
Luckily for Messi, he can have the best of both worlds. His inability to be stopped this season directly translates to Barcelona victories. In fact, because he’s so on fire, it’d be shocking if the football club didn’t maintain its spot atop the standings.
Seventeen matches into the campaign, Barcelona is still undefeated. Sure, there are plenty of games left to be played, but nine points ahead of Atletico and 16 ahead of Real Madrid, it has quite a comfortable cushion for a club that’s outscoring its opponents by an average of over two goals per game.
It would take a devastating choke job for Barca to blow its hot streak and lead. And with Messi carrying the club, that won’t happen.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.