La Liga - How many goals will Messi score?
Lionel Messi's 234 Barcelona goals not only cement his reputation as one of the greatest players of all time, they represent a staggering statistical achievement.
The Argentine has become Barcelona's leading scorer aged 24, taking less than eight seasons to reach a total that took Cesar Rodriguez 13 years.
You can see Messi's astonishing progress in the chart below.
Cesar played for Barcelona from 1942 to 1955 after joining from Granada. He competed in 13 seasons, winning five Liga titles. His best haul of 33 came in 1950/51 when Barca were a disappointing fourth.
The Messi forecast line offers a tentative prediction of his future goals. With 10 Liga games remaining, the Copa del Rey final and at least two more Champions League matches, his current seasonal scoring rate of 1.2 goals per game should see him net 15 more this season, bringing him to 249.
Messi scored 47 goals in 2009/10, 53 in 2010/11 and already has 54 in 2011/12. Even if his scoring rate slows from its present extraordinary rate, we can confidently expect him to score 50 goals per season if he stays fit.
The projection takes him up to the end of his 13th season - 2016/17 - when he would be about to turn 30. If he retains his fitness and hunger for the game, Messi should play well past that point and could go far beyond 500 club goals.
He certainly has a long way to go to catch the all-time highest scorers in club and international football - but if he stays fit a place in the top 10 is achievable.
Source: RSSSF - includes club and international goals, official matches only.