How has Messi fared against Premier League opposition?

Messi versus Premier League
AP Photo/Jon Super
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Amongst the biggest fallacies in the endless “Messi v. Ronaldo” debate has come from critics of the Argentine, claiming that Messi’s one-club, one-league success somehow gives Ronaldo an edge for scoring goals in Italy and England, too.

While those are certainly feathers in Ronaldo’s cap — and, really, we’re talking about two of best to ever do it anywhere, so chill — Messi’s Barcelona has also participated in a rarely-discussed competition called the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Barca’s Messi update | NYCFC in future? ]

Some of you may have heard of it.

With Messi being rumored as a possible new Manchester City player and with outside nods given to Manchester United and Chelsea as suitors, we thought we’d take a look at how the game’s greatest player has fared against his potential Premier League rivals.

The answer? Aside from one night at Anfield, really good. Messi’s scoring record against Premier League sides is 26 goals and six assists, with Barcelona holding a 18W-9D-7L record in those outings (all in the Champions League).

Care to narrow it down to when he hit the peak of his powers? It’s not pretty for the giants of England, as Messi has 25 goals and 6 assists in 23 matches since the calendar turned to 2010 and he claimed his first of 10 seasons with at least 41 goals. This past season was the first time he failed to hit 40 since then, but his 31 came with 26 assists and after he missed the first month of the season. Whoops.

Now he won’t necessarily have a historically-epic line-up of talent around him like his first decade at Barca, but he’ll have plenty of firepower should a move go through to any of the PL big boys.

Messi versus Chelsea

His first four appearances against Chelsea came before he turned 20, and he was held scoreless. Since then, he has 3 goals and 3 assists in six matches. All but one of those markers — an assist in 2009 — have come in his last three outings against the Blues.

Here’s how Marcos Alonso and Antonio Conte explained a recent Chelsea loss to Barcelona:

“They have Lionel Messi and I think they were the better team even though we competed well in both games,” Alonso said.

“Tonight (and) in the two legs, Lionel Messi made the difference,” Conte said. “We are talking about the best player in the world.”

Debut: Aged 18 at Stamford Bridge, Feb. 22, 2006
Last meeting: 2 goals, 1 assist at Camp Nou in 2017-18 Round of 16
Individual record: 3 goals, 3 assists
Barcelona record: 2W-6D-2L

Messi celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Chelsea at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Messi versus Arsenal

Mikel Arteta might just want to play the subs or park the proverbial bus, because Messi is an absolute Arsenal assassin. The Argentine has multiple goals in three of his six career outings against the Gunners, including all four goals in a 4-1 win at the Camp Nou in the second leg of the 2009-10 quarterfinals.

Messi was matter-of-fact after a 2-0 win at the Emirates in 2016:

“Arsenal did very well in the first half, with some help, but we knew they wouldn’t be able to keep that pace up all the way. In the second half, we had more space and that’s how we got the first goal. At the Camp Nou, we‘ll go out to win, as we do at every ground.”

They did.

Debut: Aged 22 at the Emirates Stadium, March 31, 2010
Last meeting: 1 goal at Camp Nou in 2015-16 Round of 16
Individual record: 9 goals, 1 assist
Barcelona record: 4W-1D-1L

Messi versus Man City

His potential employers would be thrilled to stop him from individually ruining their European dreams. Man City has played Barca close in five of six meetings during the Messi era, and he’s been the difference. Messi’s only loss to Barca came with a goal and after his 3-goal, 1-assist first meeting of that 2016-17 group stage.

Debut: Aged 26 at the Etihad Stadium, Feb. 18, 2014
Last meeting: 1 goal in 3-1 loss at the Etihad in 2016-17 group stage
Individual record: 6 goals, 2 assists
Barcelona record: 5W-1L

Messi versus Manchester United

Red Devils fans dont’ need this section, as Messi scored in the 2008-09 and 2010-11 Champions League Finals won by the Blaugranas. He was blanked as a teenager in the 2007-08 semifinals but returned the favor in the 2018-19 quarterfinals when Barca won 4-0 on aggregate over two legs, Messi scoring a brace in the second leg.

Debut: Aged 22 at the Emirates Stadium, March 31, 2010
Last meeting: 2 goals in 3-0 win at Camp Nou in 2018-19 quarters
Individual record: 4 goals
Barcelona record: 4W-1L-1D

Messi versus Manchester United
Messi celebrates after David Villa scores at the UEFA Champions League final versus Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Messi versus Liverpool

Individually there’s a lot to like for Liverpool fans here, though it’s plenty misleading considering the teenager was nowhere near his top powers when he was held goalless in the 2006-07 Round of 16 and the Reds went through on away goals.

There’s nothing misleading about the 2018-18 semifinals, as Messi scored twice in a 3-0 first leg win but was about the only player to show up as Liverpool won a historic 4-0 second leg at Anfield en route to a sixth UCL crown. Even in that famous loss, however, Messi was above a mortal’s average.

Debut: Aged 19 at the Camp Nou, Feb. 21, 2007
Last meeting: 4-0 loss at Anfield in the 2018-19 semifinals
Individual record: 2 goals
Barcelona record: 2W-2L

Messi versus Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs fans waited a long time to get their first match-up with Messi and the Argentine responded with a masterclass, hitting the post twice and scoring twice in a 4-2 win that’s emblematic of why he’s ready to go.

Debut: Aged 31 at Wembley Stadium, Oct. 3, 2018
Last meeting: 1-1 draw at Camp Nou in 2018-19 group stage
Individual record: 2 goals
Barcelona record: 1W-1D

(From WhoScored.com)Messi versus Tottenham