Lionel Messi shatters MLS record set by former Arsenal player

Cinquième but en trois matches de MLS pour Lionel Messi, auteur d'un  nouveau doublé - RTBF Actus
Lionel Messi set an MLS record, becoming the fastest player in league history to reach 25 goal contributions in a single season.

The 36-year-old, World Cup-winning Argentine has scored 12 goals and assisted a further 13 in 12 appearances this campaign, besting former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela, who reached the feat in 16 games at LAFC. Messi’s achievement came after he scored Inter Miami ‘s first goal in the 3-3 thriller with St Louis City on Saturday night.

The 2024 campaign has seen Inter Miami get off to its best-ever start in the Eastern Conference, where they sit top after 18 games, picking up 35 points and leading last year’s Conference winners, Cincinnati. However, Cincinnati trails by just two points and has a game in hand, and Messi will head off to the Copa America later this month to help Argentina defend its South American crown.

Nonetheless, Inter Miami is 16 points above the last MLS Cup playoff spot in the conference, leaving them some room to falter in Messi and Luis Suarez’s absence. The Sunshine State-based MLS franchise will have Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets still available, though, meaning one-half of their ex-Barcelona quartet will continue the push.

Messi’s record-setting weekend also comes off the back of a suggestion that he was saving himself for the Copa America this summer, which manager Tata Martino quickly dismissed. “No, I will not speculate if Messi is saving himself for Copa America because [that question has] no validity,” Martino said following the 3-1 defeat to Atlanta United.

“I haven’t seen any ankle problems from my point of view; he finished well and now he will do what is appropriate, what he has done all his life, be present with the Argentine national team,” Martino added following the 3-3 draw with St Louis City.

“Regarding Leo, Jordi, Sergio Busquets, and Luis Suárez, they are the players they are, they have received a lot of attention, and it is logical that we all hope they will have a strong impact on the game. But I insist on what would happen to other teams when they lack these players.”

Carlos Vela reached the feat in 16 games, three slower than Messi

Messi did endure an uncharacteristic game, though, despite his goal-scoring performance. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner found himself losing the ball in transition on several occasions, much to the surprise of St Louis’ manager, Bradley Carnell.

“I’m not too sure I’ve seen a game where Messi lost the ball so many times in transition, and we were coming from the front, the back, the side, which was amazing to watch,” he said.

“That’s a player with the highest pedigree, so we prove we can afford at this stage. I think everyone’s a little bit upset right now.”

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