Lionel Messi (finally) scores his 500th career goal

Lionel Messi scored his 500th career goal for club and country on Sunday, reaching the milestone with a simple pass into the net from a Neymar cross in Barcelona’s La Liga match against Valencia. 

The goal, which gave Barcelona their first against Valencia and a lifeline in a suddenly hugely important match in the La Liga title race, was also Messi’s 450th for Barca. The 500-goal milestone does not include the 16 goals Messi scored during his time with Argentina’s U-20 and U-23 national teams.

It was pretty much inevitable that Messi would score No. 500 this weekend.

After coming up empty in a 2-0 loss at Atletico Madrid that saw Barcelona crash out of the Champions League, Messi had been held goalless for five straight games for the first time since April 2010. Six years ago, almost to the day! For Messi’s last six-game drought, you have to go back even further: March 1-April 29, 2008, a spell during which Messi missed eight games to injury. 

Besides, Messi is always thrilled to see Valencia come into town. The Argentine now has 20 career goals against Los Che, including a hat trick last time out in the Copa del Rey semifinals. Messi has only scored more goals in his career against Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, and Real Madrid.

Messi also scored his 400th goal for Barcelona against Valencia almost exactly a year ago, on April 18, 2015.

So yeah, like we said, inevitable.

Reaching the 500-goal plateau is just another milestone in the Argentine’s otherworldly career. At just 28 years old –€“ seriously, how is he still just 28?! — Messi is already Barcelona’s and La Liga’s all-time leading scorer, and he needs just six more goals to equal Gabriel Batistuta’s national team record for the Albiceleste. 

And, before you ask, Cristiano Ronaldo currently sits at 539 goals for club and country. Ronaldo, though, is 31 and has played 159 more games than his longtime rival.