Lionel Messi: Barcelona Star Secures Best Individual Season Ever with 91st Goal

Austin GreenCorrespondent IDecember 22, 2012

VALLADOLID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga game between Real Valladolid and FC Barcelona at Jose Zorrilla on December 22, 2012 in Valladolid, Spain.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)
Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Lionel Messi surprised exactly no one on Saturday, burying his 91st goal of 2012 in Barcelona's final match of the calendar year.

The goal—a low, left-footed rocket into the right corner of the net—came in the 59th minute of Barcelona's 3-1 win over Valladolid. It also gave Messi undeniable claim to the greatest individual season of all time.

Messi shattered Gerd Muller's 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calendar year, scoring 79 times for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina. You can check out all 91 goals below.

As you can see, the 25-year-old forward was simply unstoppable, using his exceptional speed, technique and instincts to wreak havoc every time he stepped on the pitch.

He was also insanely consistent, as Paul Carr of ESPN Stats & Info pointed out on Twitter.

Lionel Messi was more likely to score multiple goals than be shut out in 2012:…

— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) December 22, 2012

That is just frightening production.

Of course, Messi is aided by Barcelona's offensive philosophy, as well as the gorgeous passes he receives from Xavi and Andres Iniesta. But there's a simple reason why nobody has scored 91 goals in a year before. There's never been someone quite like Messi.

It would still be premature to label Messi the greatest player of all time, or even the greatest Argentinean. But his case is becoming more convincing by the year.

He owns just about every single-season record for goals scored, he's won the last three Ballon d'Ors and he's helped his club team reach great success, leading Barcelona to five La Liga titles and three UEFA Champions League crowns.

Add in that he is just 25, and it's certainly conceivable that Messi will be remembered as the greatest ever. Until that time comes, he can take solace in the fact that he had the best individual year in soccer history.