Even if you side with Cristiano Ronaldo when it comes to the greatest of all-time debate, it’s hard to forget the quite incredible year that Lionel Messi had in 2012.
In being crowned the Ballon d’Or winner for a fourth time, he racked up one of the most incredible individual goal tallies we have ever seen.
In fact, he broke a record once held by the great German striker Gerd Muller, a haul that had stood for 40 long years.
The former Bayern striker scored 85 goals in a calendar year but Messi topped that, of course, he did. He took his tally in 2012 to a breathtaking 91 goals.
If that wasn’t enough, he also assisted 29 strikes for Barcelona and Argentina during a campaign that we must admit, will very unlikely be topped.
How’s that for the Messi haters? This was a year like no other for the diminutive magician.
He terrorised defences on his way to contributing to a La Liga title in the 2012/13 season, but remarkably, his side failed to win a European crown.
This was the year though Messi epitomised everything he is and was set to become. A modern great of our time, he averaged a goal every 66 minutes.
That’s a dumbfounding record when you consider just how many times he found the back of the net.
The Argentine amassed nine hat-tricks, and only 14 of those 91 strikes he scored were from the penalty spot. What makes it even more eye-catching, though, is the fact he played just 69 games.
He was the definition of a fox in the box, firing in 78 of his goals from inside the penalty area. As a defender, you can never afford to give this man space close to the goal.
His highlights reel from 2012 really is one of the best packages you’ll see.
Messi has continued to do the business since, and after 2012, he has won the Ballon d’Or on two more occasions – in 2015 and 2019.
He hasn’t been quite as prolific but the numbers he’s amassed for club and country are still incredible.
In 2019, for example, he won La Liga – his 34th career trophy – and picked up his sixth Golden Shoe; the prize given to the top goalscorer in Europe.
He was the highest scorer in the Champions League for 2018/19 and broke the 600 goal mark for Barcelona. Messi has always been a man to defy description and a sixth Ballon d’Or was just deserts.
As amazing as Messi was in 2012, the year 2020 has also been a crazy one for the 33-year-old too.
However, on this occasion, it has been for very different reasons.
The attacker rocked world football when he handed in a transfer request earlier this summer and after a dispute over his contract, very nearly left.
Manchester City were reportedly in the race to sign him but Messi eventually stayed at Camp Nou. He is out of contract next summer, though, and as a result could depart on a free transfer.
It was very nearly a sad end for the experienced winger at Barca, but he is now struggling somewhat having netted just once from open play in 2020/21.
That said, his current record for Barca is a mighty 640 goals in 741 outings. He is a phenomenon.