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Lionel Andrés Messi[note 1] (Spanish pronunciation: [ljoˈnel anˈdɾes ˈmesi] (About this soundlisten);[A] born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Often considered as the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record six Ballon d'Or awards,[note 2] a record six European Golden Shoes, and in 2020 was named to the Ballon d'Or Dream Team. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, six Copa del Rey titles and four UEFA Champions Leagues. A prolific goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (467), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (191), a La Liga and European league season (21)[9] and the Copa América (12). He has scored over 750 senior career goals for club and country, and has the most goals ever by a player for a single club.

Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at age 13, for whom he made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. He established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, and in his first uninterrupted season in 2008–09 he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football; that year, aged 22, Messi won his first Ballon d'Or. Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning four consecutive Ballons d'Or, making him the first player to win the award four times and in a row.[10] During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer. The following two seasons, Messi finished second for the Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo (his perceived career rival), before regaining his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble, after which he was awarded a fifth Ballon d'Or in 2015. Messi assumed the captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and in 2019 he secured a record sixth Ballon d'Or