Messi On The Brink Of 700 Career Goals As Barcelona Go To Sevilla

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He turns 33 next Wednesday but if we judge Lionel Messi's physical condition on the way he has emerged from three months of football lockdown in [/news/spain/index.html Spain], there seems to be no sign whatsoever of decline.
Clean shaven, lithe, and still lethal, his form and physical condition suggests [/sport/teampages/barcelona.html Barcelona] can hold on to their two-point lead at the top of LaLiga in their last nine games, despite [/sport/teampages/real-madrid.html Real Madrid] having found some late reinforcements in the shape of [/sport/eden-hazard/index.html Eden Hazard] and Marco Asensio.
Messi is just one away from 700 career goals and history says there is a good chance that he will score it at the Sanchez Pizjuan on Friday night. 
Lionel Messi salutes an empty Nou Camp after scoring in Barcelona's win over Leganes
Messi has emerged from three months of football lockdown clean shaven and lithe
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Sevilla have been his favourite victim over the years - he has scored 37 goals in 38 games against them, including five away from home. Last year he scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
There was a minor scare when he didn't train for two days and the club said he had a small muscle contraction in the quadriceps of his right leg just before the restart to the season. But he was soon back up to speed and has two goals in two games - the relentless rhythm of always.
When [/sport/football/article-8415533/Show-Lionel-Messi-wide-scream-HELP-Mallorca-director-Graeme-Le-Saux-plan-stop-Barcelona.html Sportsmail]spoke to former England defender Graeme Le Saux last week before Messi helped Barcelona beat Mallorca (where Le Saux is now a director), his analysis of the Argentinian's current state was interesting.
'His role is adapting and changing,' said Le Saux. 'There aren't many teams that will nowadays carry a player when they don't have possession but you can see with him that gradually he is less active out of possession than he was.
 Messi stands on the brink of 700 career goals as Barcelona travel to Sevilla on Friday night
Messi celebrates with Jordi Alba and team-mates during victory over Mallorca
'He has always had that luxury, I suppose you would say, of being able to be that less bit active [without the ball] and Barcelona dominate the ball so much that the time he hasn't got the ball, or they haven't got the ball is only small anyway. 
'But I have definitely noticed that in him, that he uses that time a little bit more for recovery now.'
Le Saux added the caveat that Barcelona might not always be able to allow him that luxury. 
'When you are playing against better teams, being, in effect, a man down out of possession is huge. And if you are not able to dominate the ball in the same way what you get out of that player is less,' he said.
The Argentine turns 33 next week but is in peak physical condition and lethal in front of goal
Messi (pictured after scoring against Sevilla in October) comes up against his favourite victim
But Le Saux, in awe of Messi's longevity also added: 'If you think of how many miles he has got on the clock. It's incredible, the motivation and the mentality to maintain that standard and demand and not to be distracted by all the noise and success.'
It's been a feature of Messi's career that the aims, targets and new records have kept on being set up like bowling pins and he has kept on knocking them down. This year will be his 11th league title. 
He'll be the first to win the top-goalscorer 'Pichichi' award for a seventh time. And that 700 goals seems like a magical number even in a career of magical numbers.
These days the goals are a little bit more human, and they tend to be with his most trusted weapon - 19 of his 21 goals have been scored with his left foot. There have been two with his right foot and no headers.
Messi celebrates after scoring in Barcelona's Champions League final victory in 2011
The rhythm has also dropped slightly. Currently all 20 teams in LaLiga have scored more goals than Messi. It's a measure of his achievements that that has not always been the case - by this stage of the season there are usually good few stragglers who have managed fewer goals as entire squads than Messi has scored alone.
For all the blistering league form, it shouldn't be forgotten that it was the Champions League he made a point of promising to fans at the start of last season. 
And he repeated the pledge at the start of this campaign. Four European Cups (and he doesn't really count the first because he was in the stands) is not a good enough return.
This year's tournament will have a World Cup feel to it so adding it to his collection of 34 trophies might feel even more special. The league, Champions League and new contract hat-trick is very much on. 
Although the last of those three goals would clearly go down as scored by the club, http://tyq.co.kr/xe/board/751436 desperate to squeeze at least another couple of years out of their greatest ever player.
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