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Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi “goes out to assassinate the goalkeepers” when he takes to the pitch, says Willy Caballero, who admits that his fellow Argentine is forever on a “mission” to find the target.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has made a habit of doing just that down the years, with a remarkable return of 663 efforts for the Blaugrana seeing countless records tumble around the all-time great.
Chelsea keeper Caballero has lined up against and alongside Messi down the years and is well placed to pass judgement on what makes the mercurial 33-year-old so special.
Caballero, who has formed part of Argentina national squads and turned out in La Liga over the course of his career, told 90min: “FacingMessi, I had to suffer.
“He goes out to assassinate the goalkeepers.
“The goalkeepers, the defenders - hes going to kill [them]. And killing means scoring as many goals as possible.
“He doesnt care if you know him, if youre Argentine or if youre a friend. Hell talk to you afterwards, greet you and everything else, but in those 90 minutes hes on a mission to hit you with goals.”
The legendary South American has hit 467 La Liga goals over the course of his career, through 511 appearances, placing him at the top of theall-time chart in Spain.
Messi has found the target on 120 occasions in the Champions League, with only eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo (134) ahead of him on that list.
He has managed 54 goals in the Copa del Rey, with the promise of more to come there, and hit the back of the net 71 times in 142 outings for Argentina.
In what has been a testing campaign at times for Barcelona, their talismanic captain has maintained stunning standards.
He leads the race for the Pichichi Trophy with 23 goals to his name, with 29 efforts recorded in total alongside 11 assists.
Questions continue to be asked of his future at Camp Nou, as a lucrative contract runs down towards free agency, but fresh terms are being mooted and a big career call will be made when the 2020-21 season comes to a close.