Messi chases record

BARCELONA, Spain – Lionel Messi is three goals away from equalling the Spanish league’s all-time scoring record, a milestone that has stood untouched for almost 60 years.

Athletic Bilbao great Telmo Zarra scored 251 goals in 271 games from 1940-55.

Since netting his first goal for Barcelona in 2005, Messi has 248 goals in league play.

Saturday’s match at Rayo Vallecano will be his 284th league appearance.

“Right now, I am not thinking about the record,” Messi said on Thursday. “But it will be nice to become the top scorer of one of the best leagues in the world. So many good players and scorers have played here. It will come when it is supposed to.”

Already Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer, Messi holds the league’s single-season scoring record of 50 in 2011-12.

The 27-year-old Messi scored his 402nd goal for club and country on Wednesday in Barcelona’s 3-2 loss at Paris Saint-Germain, a first defeat in eight games this season. He has 360 goals for Barcelona and 42 for Argentina, which he led to the World Cup final in July.

Messi has five goals in six rounds this season to help Barcelona top the league standings. But his passing has been just as brilliant, especially in connection with Neymar. Four of Messi’s six assists in the league have gone to the Brazil striker.

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