Ernesto Valverde Says 'Extraordinary' Lionel Messi Can Reach 500 La Liga Goals

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2019

(l-r) FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League group B match between FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur FC at the Camp Nou stadium on December 11, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde was full of praise for Lionel Messi after he scored his 400th La Liga goal on Sunday and backed the forward to add another century of strikes in the competition to his haul.

Messi reached the landmark during Barcelona's 3-0 win over Eibar at the Camp Nou, continuing his excellent campaign and keeping the Blaugrana five points clear at the summit of the table. 

Speaking after the match, Valverde was effusive in his positivity towards Barcelona's no. 10, per Samuel Marsden of ESPN FC.

"But 400 is ridiculous. It's easy to say it, but if you stack [the goals] one after the other ... The numbers are stratospheric, incredible. Messi is an extraordinary player from another galaxy," he said. "And it is not just that he is a goalscorer, it's everything he creates, the goals he gives us, what he generates around him."

When asked if Messi will make it to 500 La Liga goals, Valverde said he has "the feeling that [Messi] will."

The Barcelona Twitter account paid tribute to Messi after he grabbed his 400th top-flight goal:

Given his consistency and continued potency in front of goal, new records do seem to come along for the Argentina international almost every week. However, his most recent achievement is one that only Juventus and former Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo can match:

There doesn't appear to be any sign of Messi slowing down at the age of 31 either, as he's as influential now as he has ever been for Barcelona.

The searing speed and industry off the ball the forward had when he first burst onto the scene may no longer be there. Yet Messi can still fool defenders with his dribbling, thread delicate passes into team-mates and get on the scoresheet too.

Once again in 2018-19, he is showing himself to be the standout player in the division:

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker had his say on the Blaugrana icon:

Given he signed a new five-year contract at the end of 2017, Barcelona clearly feel as though Messi can maintain his remarkable standards for a while yet.

Later in his career, it is anticipated Messi may operate a little deeper in order to be more of a creative influence, a process which has started in recent years. Yet what makes the Argentina star so special is his ability to control games, create opportunities and still pick up goals himself.

It's going to be fascinating to track the development of Messi as he moves into the twilight of his career and it'd be unwise to rule out the prospect of him getting to 500 La Liga goals. Regardless of how he tweaks his game, the Barcelona star is a man who always seems to find a way of getting on the scoresheet.

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