Eden Hazard explains difference between Chelsea and Real Madrid fans ahead of Champions League opener at PSG

17 Sep

Eden Hazard claims Real Madrid fans are more fanatical about football than English supporters.

The Belgium captain joined the LaLiga giants in an initial £88million deal, which could rise to £150million, from Chelsea in June and knows he has his work cut out to gain backing from the Bernabeu faithful.

Eden Hazard was Real Madrid’s marquee signing over the summer
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The lofty expectations of the crown have even seen Cristiano Ronaldo jeered in the past, while Gareth Bale, despite his role in winning the 2018 Champions League final, felt the wrath of supporters last season.

Hazard has now played his first game for the club when he made his debut as a 60th-minute substitute in a 3-2 win over Levante on Saturday after recovering from a thigh injury.

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“In England there are not so many fans, people there like football and everyone, young people, adults, teenagers, are really interested in their football, but they are not so fanatical about their teams,” he said.

“At the time I was in Chelsea and we lost, we were disappointed as were the fans, but I never felt it was a disaster.

“When you are at Real Madrid, even if it is my first year, talking to the fans, they always expect you to win the Champions League.

“That is why I think there is so much expectation placed on this competition and that is why the club has won it more than any other team.”

Zinedine Zidane could hand Hazard his first Real Madrid start in their Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, in a game which is LIVE on talkSPORT 2.

New LaLiga television deal means EVERY match will be broadcast live in UK and Ireland

10 Sep

Every LaLiga match will be broadcast live on television in the United Kingdom and Ireland this season due to a new TV rights deal.

Premier Sports have partnered with the Spanish top-flight to show games from Spain’s top tier for the next three years.

Lionel Messi will be on UK screens on a weekly basis
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The channel will be available on Sky TV in January 2020.

LaLiga had been struggling to sell their TV rights earlier this summer, with ITV4 streaming just one match per week for the first three rounds of the season.

The new agreement will also see the introduction of LaLigaTV, a dedicated 24-hour channel.

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A statement published on Tuesday read: “Premier Sports and LaLiga have today announced a historic agreement that will see every game from Spanish top-flight LaLiga Santander broadcast in the UK and Ireland via multiple platforms through the conclusion of the 2021/22 season.

“LaLiga will become the first football league to have a 24/7 dedicated channel in the UK and Ireland carrying all live games via all major TV platforms.”

Premier Sports will start to broadcast matches this weekend, with Real Madrid and Barcelona in action against Levante and Valencia respectively. LaLigaTV will be added next month.

Football Manager 2020: 15 clubs you should manage to challenge yourself

8 Sep

Football Manager 2020 is just around the corner so boot up your laptop and get ready to while away the hours trying to unearth wonderkid regens from Venezuela.

Upon release, we fully intend to spend our time tweaking tactics and instructions in hope of finding the ultimate way to beat opponents in the hyper-realistic management simulation game.

It’s no fun just being Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, or Bayern Munich, though. You need to really test your skills every now and again.

Barcelona superstar Antoine Griezmann, amongst many others, is a fan of the series and regularly posts images of his Arsenal save – he clearly loves a challenge too!

But who are the clubs you should be considering to manager as we await the game’s release?

Here talkSPORT.com has taken a look at 15 teams we reckon will really test your skills.

Chelsea (Premier League)

Think you can do better than Frank Lampard? Try it out for yourself.

The club legend is currently dealing with long-term injuries to three starlets, a two-window transfer ban, and the loss of Eden Hazard.

Lampard’s start to life at Stamford Bridge has been mixed but how will you do?

Will you stick with Kurt Zouma, will you pick Cesar Azpilicueta? Give it a go.

Frank Lampard has had an interesting start to life as Chelsea boss
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Athletic Bilbao (LaLiga)

It’s far too easy just being Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico in Spain. You need to make things tricky.

Why not become boss in Bilbao?

You’re going to have to be an ace at handling young stars as Athletic Club can only sign players with a Basque heritage or Spaniards no older than 16.

The talent of Inaki Williams, Iker Munian, Yeray, and Inigo Martinez will help to start out.

Aymeric Laporte and Kepa Arrizabalaga have both played for Athletic Club in recent times

FC Koln (Bundesliga)

Winners of the first ever Bundesliga title in 1963, Effzeh have only won one more since, back in 1977/78, so can you end the drought?

They were promoted back to the top flight last season, winning the second division in Germany.

The managed to retain stars like Timo Horn and Jonas Hector, amongst others, while Simon Terodde was prolific last season – can he cut it in the top flight for you after previous first division struggles?

FC Koln have a passionate fanbase
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AC Milan (Serie A)

Financial Fair Play breaches mean the Italians won’t be playing in Europe this season, despite finishing fifth last term.

There’s been another overhaul with their squad as Theo Hernandez, Rafael Leao, and Ismael Bennacer joining permanently, while Ante Rebic signs on loan with an option to buy.

Out go several former first-teamers like Riccardo Montolivio, Ignazio Abate, Cristian Zapata, as well as youngster Patrick Cutrone, along with several loanees.

Can you get them back into the Champions League where they belong?

Can you get the best out of Hakan Calhanoglu?
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Monaco (Ligue 1)

A topsy-turvy 2018/19 saw things get grim on the Cote d’Azur last season and not even Thierry Henry could help them.

It’s a squad which has a mixture of young talents and experienced professionals like Cesc Fabregas, Naldo and Kamil Glik.

The forward line is tasty with Henry Onyekuru, Wissam Ben Yedder, Islam Slimani and Jean-Kevin Augustin joining Stevan Jovetic, Gelson Martins, and Keita Balde.

But can you get them back near the top of the table competing with Paris Saint-Germain and the best in Europe?

Can Slimani be the key to glory on the south coast of France?
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Ajax (Eredivisie)

How do you cope with losing two of the world’s most exciting talents?

By managing the Dutch giants you can put yourself in Erik ten Hag’s shoes.

Will you place faith in talents like Perr Schuurs, Kik Pierie, Sergino Dest, or go with experienced stars?

Can you use the club’s new wealth to develop even more wonderkids? Or will you splash the cash on stars from around the globe? It’s a test of shrewdness and being savvy with your finances.

Can you do better than Erik ten Hag?
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Aberdeen (Scottish Premiership)

Sir Alex Ferguson was the last man to hand The Dons a league title in Scotland back in 1985.

When Rangers weren’t in the top flight recently, they couldn’t capitalise either.

But with you in charge, well, anything could happen.

Sam Cosgrove can get you goals, but can you sort out a leaky defence and put a title bid back on the cards?

Deportivo La Coruna (LaLiga 2)

For 20 years, the Spaniards were one of the top teams in the top flight but now they’re a mid-table second tier side.

Things have changed in Galicia but you can turn the clock back on Football Manager 2020.

You will need to find your own answers to Roy Makaay, Djalminha, Noureddine Naybet, Donato and Mauro Silva.

But if you can, you’ll be a fine gaffer.

Wakaso Mubarak in action for Deportivo La Coruna this season
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Auxerre (Ligue 2)

Guy Roux became player-manager of the club back in 1961 when they were in the fourth tier.

Across 40 years he took them to the top-flight and eventually helped them win the Ligue 1 title in 1996, as well as earning them four Coup de France trophies.

Now, though, they’re back in Ligue 2 and have been for seven campaigns.

The squad needs a little bit of TLC and if you get things right you could be a club legend, just like Roux.

Guy Roux is a true football legend
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St Pauli (2. Bundesliga)

Everyone loves the left wing ideologies of the Hamburg natives but, despite their global brand, they haven’t been in the first tier since 2011.

This year they even have some Brits in their squad, as Matt Penney and James Lawrence join their ranks.

You might also remember ex-Arsenal man Ryo Miyaichi and former Manchester United academy ace Mats Moller Daehli.

Will you get them promoted ahead of cross-city rivals Hamburg in 2019/20?

St Pauli star Finn Ole Becker holds off a challenge
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Venezia (Serie B)

A bridge too far? Not for someone as skilled in Football Manager as you.

Why not head to the lagoon this year and help the Floating City into Serie A?

Venezia were handed a stunning reprieve this summer as they were set to be sinking into Serie C.

Instead, with Palermo demoted to Serie D due to funding issues, Gli Arancioneroverdi hung onto a spot in the second tier.

This one is a fun task, if you choose to accept it.

Youssef Maleh in action for Venezia
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Bolton Wanderers (League One)

The Trotters were on the brink just days ago but their salvation now presents you with a real test of Football Manager.

Once in the UEFA Cup playing Bayern Munich, the club has fallen on hard times. Get them back there and you’ll be a local hero forever.

Football Ventures have completed their takeover of Bolton
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Salford City (League Two)

Fancy having the Class of 92 as your bosses? Why not pitch up at Moor Lane and try to meet their expectations.

You’ll likely to have to adhere to a few philosophies but that’s never stopped you before has it?

Play attacking football, vie for promotion, and bringing through young talent are likely to be among your immediate tasks.

David Beckham and Gary Neville in the stands during the Vanarama National League Play Off Final between Salford City and AFC Fylde at Wembley
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Chorley (National League)

Promoted last season, the Magpies play at Victory Park.

And victories will be needed to keep them in the National League, let alone for a shot at the Football League.

This one is for lower league management veterans and not for the faint-hearted.

Shanghai SIPG (Chinese Super League)

Fancy having Hulk, Oscar, and Marko Arnautovic at your disposal over in the CSL?

It’s still tough to win the title with Paulinho and Anderson Talisca inspiring Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao, so you need to be at the top of your game.

Goalkeeping coach Ian Walker will be there to lend you a hand.

Can you help Arnautovic win a trophy?
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Tottenham ‘rejected late Barcelona approach for Neymar alternative Lucas Moura’ on transfer deadline day

4 Sep

Barcelona failed in a late approach to sign Lucas Moura from Tottenham on transfer deadline day, reports claim.

The forward starred for Spurs last season, scoring 15 goals, including a hat-trick against Ajax to take Mauricio Pochettino’s men to the Champions League final.

Lucas Moura has started two of Tottenham‘s opening four games this season
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He has been a hit at Tottenham since joining for £25million from Paris Saint-Germain in January 2018.

And Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo claim Barcelona targeted Moura on Monday after a proposed deal to re-sign PSG star Neymar collapsed.

Barcelona had chased Neymar, who left the LaLiga giants to join PSG in 2017, throughout the summer with the forward keen on a return.

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However, the club could not finance a move for the world’s most expensive player.

And it is understood the Catalan club were also priced out of a move for Moura, whose valuation exceeded £45million.

Barcelona were short on cash having spent a combined total of £174million on Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong earlier this summer.

Now, Neymar will look to reintegrate himself at the Parc des Princes, while Moura attempts to continue his good start to the season.

The 27-year-old opened his account for the 2019/20 campaign after netting against Manchester City in a hard-fought 2-2 draw last month.

Gareth Bale scores two goals for Real Madrid vs Villarreal, but receives red card in injury time

1 Sep

Gareth Bale ended a goal drought to score twice for Real Madrid in a 2-2 with Villarreal on Sunday.

However, in addition to ending 169 days without a LaLiga goal, the forward was also sent off.

Gareth Bale walks off the pitch after being sent off
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Villarreal went in front again through Moi Gomez, before Bale doubled his tally in the 86th minute.

But the game ended badly for the 30-year-old as he picked up two yellow cards in as many minutes in injury-time.

Bale was given his marching orders for a high boot which put an end to what had been an impressive individual performance and later tweeted he was ‘disappointed’ with his red card.

The former Tottenham winger looked set to quit the Spanish giants earlier this summer after manager Zinedine Zidane admitted ‘it would be best for everyone’ if he left.

Gareth Bale broke his lengthy scoring drought in LaLiga
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And he was on the verge of joining Chinese Super League club Jinagsu Suning last month, but Real pulled the plug on the deal.

Zidane has performed a dramatic U-turn on Bale by saying he would ‘rely on him’ for the 2019/20 season.

The Frenchman said: “It seemed that (Bale) was going to leave but today he is here with us.

“The dynamics are changing, things are changing. From now on, I will rely on him, as on others.

“I will rely on all the players who are here. He has his place, he is an important player and I hope that all the players will make the task of choosing a team difficult.”

Real Madrid above Barcelona in LaLiga for first time in 818 days

18 Aug

Real Madrid are above Barcelona in LaLiga for the first time in 818 days.

Zinedine Zidane’s side secured a 3-1 opening-day win over Celta Vigo on Saturday as Barcelona lost 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao thanks to a stunning Aduriz overhead kick 24 hours earlier.

Real Madrid stars celebrate against Celta Vigo
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Real have struggled in LaLiga for the past two seasons, while Barcelona have dominated the league.

Goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Lucas Vazquez made sure Luka Modric’s 56th-minute red card did not affect the result.

Gareth Bale, who almost moved to China earlier this summer, assisted Benzema’s strike after being a surprise inclusion in the starting XI.

Zinedine Zidane is hoping to lead Real Madrid to silverware this season
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It is a dramatic U-turn from Zidane, who had previously made it clear he did not want Bale at the Bernabeu.

The Frenchman has been left short of wide options following a thigh injury to summer signing Eden Hazard.

Speaking about Bale’s future after their win at Celta Vigo, Zidane said: “He’s going to stay and we all have to think of that as a positive thing.

“The injury to Eden Hazard was bad luck for us but it didn’t change the plans we had for Bale in this game.

“Gareth and everyone else here is going to show this shirt the respect it deserves.”

Real Madrid news: How Zinedine Zidane’s men could line-up IF Gareth Bale stays

10 Jul

Gareth Bale had a dire end to the 2018/19 season with Real Madrid.

Following the reappointment of Zinedine Zidane in March, Bale struggled to nail down a regular starting place.

Gareth Bale’s Real Madrid future remains uncertain
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The Wales star was an unused substitute as Real suffered a final-day 2-0 home defeat to Real Betis.

And in his post-match press conference, Zidane refused to answer whether Bale would be a Real player next season.

He said: “I’m sorry he didn’t get to play, but no one knows what will happen.

“If I think a player doesn’t fit in the team I have to do what I think works best. No one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present.

“I make these decisions when it is right to do so, and I must act in the best interests of the team at all times.”

Bale has been linked with moves to Tottenham, Manchester United and Bayern Munich throughout the summer.

Zinedine Zidane appears to be preparing for life without Gareth Bale
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But he has been hard to let go with three years remaining on his £350,000-a-week salary.

And despite his future still being up in the air, Bale reported back for pre-season at the Bernabeu on Monday, along with summer signing Eden Hazard.

The Belgium captain left Chelsea to join Real in an initial £88million deal last month and will be leading the LaLiga giants’ charge as they aim to win a first top-flight title since 2017.

Hazard has been part of a £250million-plus spending spree which has seen Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy, Eder Militao, and Rodrygo arrive so far.

And if no other clubs can afford Bale, the 29-year-old could force his way back into Zidane’s plans and form a lethal attack with Hazard and Jovic.

Jovic has joined Real Madrid from Frankfurt
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Paul Pogba has been heavily linked with a move to the Spanish capital after admitting ‘it could be time for a new challenge’.

Real stalwarts Toni Kroos and Luka Modric could partner the France star in a three-man midfield.

Similarly to Bale, Marcelo found first-team minutes hard to come by under Zidane and is likely to be replaced by £47million signing Mendy in the starting XI.

Ferland Mendy has swapped Lyon for Real Madrid where he will join former Lyon star Karim Benzema
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Militao could have to bide his time before establishing himself as a regular starter with Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane boasting far more experience.

Dani Carvajal is expected to continue at right-back, while Thibaut Courtois will be hoping to improve after a tough debut season in Madrid.

How Real Madrid could line-up next season with Bale

Could Gareth Bale revive his Real Madrid career in the 2019/20 season?
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Who is Wissam Ben Yedder? The £36million-rated Sevilla striker linked with Manchester United

26 Jun

Manchester United are reportedly targeting a move for Wissam Ben Yedder.

The Sevilla striker scored 29 goals in all competitions last season, continuing his excellent progress in Spain.

Wissam Ben Yedder is one of LaLiga’s most prolific strikers
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Reports in Spain claim Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer views Ben Yedder as an ideal replacement for Romelu Lukaku, who has been linked with Inter Milan.

The France international found the net 18 times during the 2018/19 LaLiga campaign as Sevilla finished sixth and Solskjaer believes he could provide the firepower to return Manchester United to the top four next season.

United fans caught a glimpse of his quality when his double knocked Jose Mourinho’s side out of the Champions League in the 2017/18 season.

Below, talkSPORT.com give you the lowdown on Ben Yedder.

Wissam Ben Yedder – 2018/19

  • Age: 28
  • Club: Sevilla
  • Position: Striker
  • Nationality: French
  • LaLiga appearances: 35
  • Europa League appearances: 8
  • Goals in all competitions: 28
  • LaLiga Starts: 31
  • Assists in all competitions: 9
  • Shots per game: 2.2
  • Aerials won per game: 1.1
  • Dribbles per game: 2.2
  • Pass success: 74.4 per cent
  • Key passes per game: 1.2

What’s the gossip?

Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona are all believed to be interested in signing Ben Yedder this summer.

PSG will need to replace Neymar if the Brazilian leaves, while Barcelona are always on the lookout for attacking talent.

When asked about his future, Ben Yedder said: “I dream of playing at the highest level, in the biggest clubs in the world and being next to world class players. To see how far I can go.

“I cannot be disrespectful in the club [Sevilla]. Whatever the final decision, I’ll be fine. I’m not worried about my future.

“I will find a balance after the choice is made, but it will also be Sevilla who decides.”

6. Wissam Ben Yedder - Sevilla
Ben Yedder celebrates scoring against Manchester United
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Club career so far?

After reaching double figures in four successive campaigns with boyhood club Toulouse, including 17 goals in his final season, Ben Yedder joined Sevilla for a modest £8million fee in 2016.

Toulouse manager at the time, Pascal Dupraz, claimed Ben Yedder turned down Arsenal before moving to Spain.

How much is he likely to cost?

Ben Yedder has a £36million release clause, which United could easily afford to trigger.

He has just two years left on his Sevilla deal.

International experience

He made his senior France debut in March 2018 but Ben Yedder failed to make Didier Deschamps’ 23-man squad for last summer’s World Cup.

However, the 28-year-old has won four caps for his country and scored his first goal in a 4-0 Euro 2020 qualifier win over Andorra earlier this month.

What is being said about him?

Even though Salzburg striker Munas Dabbur is joining the club, Sevilla sporting director Monchi insists they will still need to sign another forward if Ben Yedder departs.

He said: “There are things that worry us more than a release clause.

“I don’t foresee any movements regarding this but if someone were to pay it we would have to go into the market.

“But we have Dabbur who has scored more than 30 goals this season.”

How will he fit into Manchester United’s team?

Solskjaer used a 4-4-2 diamond in three of, arguably, Manchester United’s most impressive results last season – a 1-0 victory at Tottenham, a shock 3-1 win at PSG in the Champions League and a dominant 2-0 FA Cup triumph over Chelsea.

Ben Yedder’s arrival could see United revert to the formation, which brought them success under the Norwegian.

Marcus Rashford and Ben Yedder’s threat in behind with their blistering pace would terrify Premier League defenders.

How Wissam Ben Yedder could fit into Manchester United’s XI next season
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Former Real Madrid and Leeds defender Raul Bravo spends night in jail amid match-fixing claims

31 May

Former Real Madrid and Leeds defender Raul Bravo spent Thursday night in jail amid match-fixing claims.

The 38-year-old and ex-Villarreal forward Carlos Aranda were remanded in prison after appearing in court in Huesca on Thursday.

Raul Bravo spent six years in Real Madrid’s first-team
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Bravo, who had a brief loan spell with Championship club Leeds in 2003, is understood to be the ringleader.

Four other people involved in the scandal, including recently-retired Valladolid skipper Borja Fernandez and Huesca president Agustin Lasaosa, were bailed out, but will have to pay €50,000 to remain out of prison.

A judicial official, confirming Bravo and Aranda were remanded in custody, said: “Huesca Court of Investigation Number Five has determined provisional prison for Raul Bravo and Carlos Aranda, which they can avoid with the payment of a bail bond set at €100,000 each.

Leeds ace Samuel Saiz was questioned by police
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“Both are being investigated on suspicion of being possibly responsible for the crimes of membership of a criminal organisation, sports corruption and fraud in relation to an ongoing investigation at the court into alleged match-fixing.”

Bravo was David Beckham’s team-mate at Real Madrid, where he spent six years as a player from 2001.

He was capped 14 times for Spain and featured for his country at Euro 2004.

Leeds winger Samuel Saiz, on loan at Getafe, was questioned by police in connection with match-fixing, before being allowed to continue his holiday in Ibiza.

On Tuesday, Spanish police confirmed they expected to arrest 11 people in relation to match-fixing.

Lionel Messi: Every record the Barcelona superstar has broken in 2019

25 May

Lionel Messi just keeps on breaking records.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner guided Barcelona to LaLiga glory in 2018/19 – their seventh title in 11 years,

Lionel Messi will go down as one of the best players of all time
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His season ended in disappointment on Sunday night as Valencia beat Barca 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final but Messi was once again on the scoresheet.

Messi turns 32 in June, but there is no sign of him slowing down.

The Argentina international netted 51 goals what has been another incredibly prolific campaign.

Here, talkSPORT look at the milestones Messi has reached since the turn of the year.

Broke the 40-goal mark for a 10th consecutive season

Messi scored his 39th and 40th goals of the season in a 2-0 win over Espanyol in March. He has always passed the 40-goal mark since netting 47 times in the 2008/09 campaign. He netted 51 goals in total, with 36 coming in LaLiga, 12 in the Champions League and three in the Copa del Rey.

Moved past Andres Iniesta for all-time Barcelona appearances

Messi‘s 675th game for Barcelona against Espanyol in March saw him leapfrog legendary midfielder Iniesta into second for all-time appearances for the club. Now, Messi is on 687 and is chasing down Xavi’s 767 record.

Lionel Messi scored a stunning free-kick against Liverpool in the Champions League earlier this month
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Reached 600-goal milestone

Messi scored his 600th goal for Barcelona by netting a stunning 25-yard free-kick against Liverpool in the Champions League earlier this month.

Converted his 50th LaLiga penalty for Barcelona

Messi scored his 50th penalty in Spain’s top-flight when he converted from the spot against Valencia in February. Only former Real Madrid stars Hugo Sanchez (56) and Cristiano Ronaldo (61) have scored more.

Fastest player in Europe to reach 20 league goals

Messi’s penalty against Valencia also saw him hit 20 league goals faster than any player in Europe’s top five divisions. It was the 11th season in a row where he’d scored 20 goals.

First player to score 400 LaLiga goals

Messi scored his 400th LaLiga goal in just 435 appearances during Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Eibar in January. Barca boss Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on his star man on yet another historic night.

Lionel Messi is Barcelona’s all-time top scorer on 602 goals
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He said: “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.”

Most LaLiga wins

Messi surpassed Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas’ 334 LaLiga wins after scoring in a 2-0 win against Atletico Madrid in April. The winger is on 339 victories and counting.