Lionel Messi continues to chalk up milestone after milestone on the football pitch, and the Barcelona forward has added another achievement to his already impressive career.
Scoring against Valencia in Wednesday's first-leg Copa del Rey match, a 7-0 win for Barca at Camp Nou, Messi reached 500 career goals, per Bleacher Report UK:
The Argentinian star needed only 74 minutes to register a hat-trick against Valencia, first finding the back of the net in the 29th minute and following up again in the 59th, giving Barca a 4-0 lead. Messi's third goal gave his side a 5-0 advantage. Match ball in hand, he praised his squad after the match, per Barcelona's Twitter account:
Leo (Facebook): "A great game from the whole team tonight. We need to keep working hard to accomplish our goals" pic.twitter.com/8JX1QoLJJc— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 3, 2016
"With Messi and (Luis) Suarez we are amazed every day," said Barca winger Aleix Vidal, per the club's official site.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Messi's four hat-tricks against Valencia are his most against any one club. Online gambling company Bwin felt sorry for Valencia manager Gary Neville, who will only be under more pressure after Wednesday's match:
Messi has made it 3-0 to Barcelona.— bwin (@bwin) February 3, 2016
Gary Neville closes his eyes and thinks longingly of Jamie Carragher#FCBVCF
B/R UK is looking ahead to the UEFA Champions League round of 16, where Arsenal will have to stop Barcelona's attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez:
—Luis Suarez hat-trick ✅— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) February 3, 2016
—Lionel Messi hat-trick ✅
February 23: Arsenal vs. Barcelona 😳 pic.twitter.com/ZoHOQqiORS
According to the Washington Post, Messi has now found the back of the net 436 times for Barcelona and 65 for Argentina at both the senior and youth levels.
Messi needs no more accolades to be considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. His scoring prowess, combined with individual trophy haul, are nearly unparalleled. If anything, he might spoil fans' expectations for the generations of footballers to come.
Scoring 1,000 goals would seemingly be implausible for Messi, but he has made the unthinkable look routine throughout his career. If he can play long enough, he may just match Pele's feat.