He's been blessed with some world-class team-mates

The outrageous XI of players that have played the most games alongside Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s incredible career has spanned over two decades. He’s made over a thousand appearances, scored over 800 goals, and during his time with Barcelona, PSG, Inter Miami and Argentina he’s been blessed to play with some truly world-class team-mates.

From playing alongside Thierry Henry to Kylian Mbappe, Messi’s wonderful career has spanned different eras. But what about those trusty players that spent years and years by his side?

We’ve taken a look at the player in every position that’s made the most appearances alongside Messi and compiled this outrageously good XI of his team-mates. With this lot as his supporting cast, it’s no wonder that he’s had such a successful career.

GK: Victor Valdes

Messi has played alongside some great ‘keepers, from Marc-Andre ter Stegen to Emiliano Martinez to Gianluigi Donnarumma.

But the one to have stood between the sticks the most often alongside Messi was La Masia graduate Victor Valdes, who served as Barcelona’s No.1 from 2003 until 2014.

Valdes made 353 appearances alongside Messi. That’s just over a hundred more than Ter Stegen.

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RB: Dani Alves

Messi had a brilliant connection with the Brazilian and called him the world’s greatest full-back. He’s since eclipsed Alves to become officially the most decorated footballer in history.

The less said about Alves’ life after football, the better.

CB: Gerard Pique

“Did I congratulate Messi on winning the World Cup? No, not really,” the former centre-back revealed last year.

“Since my retirement I have disconnected from football. I didn’t watch any World Cup game, except for the final, and I didn’t watch the whole game.”

Pique and Messi won it all together, playing 506 matches alongside one another, but they reportedly don’t really see eye-to-eye these days. Bit sad, that, really.

CB: Javier Mascherano

The only name on this teamsheet that played alongside Messi for Argentina as well as for his club, Mascherano predominantly played as a defensive midfielder for the Albiceleste but he had to adapt his game at Barcelona because there was no dislodging Busquets.

Mascherano played 414 times alongside Messi – 111 for Argentina, three more than Angel Di Maria – which comfortably sees him slot in alongside Pique in our defence, ahead of Carles Puyol (269 appearances with Messi).

LB: Jordi Alba

Another full-back that Messi has linked up with superbly over the years, Alba has made 362 appearances (and counting) alongside the Argentinian.

Twenty-six of Messi’s career goals have been assisted by Alba. Messi has returned the favour by setting up 11 of Alba’s goals.

It looks as though they’re continuing to enjoy one another’s company at Inter Miami.

DM: Sergio Busquets

The anchor of Barcelona’s midfield for a decade and a half, Busquets first broke into the team when Pep Guardiola was appointed in 2008 and his prime years coincided with Messi.

The duo were among the first names on Barca’s teamsheet for 13 years together, so it’s no surprise that Busquets is the player to have made the all-time most appearances alongside the Argentinian.

And that was before the two reunited at Inter Miami. At the time of writing, the duo have played 588 matches alongside one another. A number that looks set to rise well beyond 600 matches as they see out their glittering careers in the Florida sunshine.

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CM: Andres Iniesta

“I always picture him with the ball at his feet. That’s the way I have got used to seeing him,” Messi described in The Artist: Being Iniesta.

“He does everything well, with simplicity. At times, it may look like he’s not doing anything, but in fact he’s doing it all. Everything is different with Andres. The hardest thing to do in football is to make it look like everything is easy, effortless, and that’s Andres.”

Couldn’t put it better ourselves. No wonder Messi loved playing alongside him – 489 times, in fact. Only Busquets and Pique have made more appearances on the same teamsheet as Messi.

CM: Xavi

Completing the era-defining midfield trio that started the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals alongside Messi.

Xavi was already a mainstay of the Barcelona team by the time that Messi began to break through and went on to enjoy a decade lining up alongside the club’s all-time greatest player.

He lobbied hard for Barca to bring him back to the Camp Nou when his PSG contract expired last summer, telling SPORT:

“I’m in no doubt that if Messi were to return, he would help us in what we are wanting to achieve with our football.

“I am in no doubt and I’ve told this to the president. He continues to be a determined footballer, he has the hunger still.

“He’s still a winner, he’s a leader and he’s different. At Barcelona, we’ve not have the same level since what we reached as a pinnacle in 2010.”

Messi chose Miami instead, but there’s no suggestion there’s anything but enormous warmth and respect between him and Xavi.

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RW: Pedro

I mean, really, if we’re talking an all-time Messi team-mates XI, this is probably the position that the man himself would occupy.

But if we’re looking for someone to take his place, we can’t look beyond Pedro, who is versatile enough to line up on both the left and right.

The Spanish forward made 260 appearances alongside Messi for Barca, with the peak of their time together in a front three alongside David Villa in the La Liga & Champions League-winning 2010-11 campaign.

Messi, Villa and Pedro all scored in the 2011 Champions League final and Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets all assisted. Footballing perfection, that.

ST: Luis Suarez

Best mates off the pitch and devastatingly lethal on it.

11 players have played more games with Messi than the Uruguayan, but no player has assisted – or been assisted by Messi – more often than Suarez. They’ve combined for 102 goals (58 for Messi, 44 for Suarez), which is 35 more than any other player.

Particularly potent in the 2014-15 treble-winning season, Messi and Suarez have continually and consistently delivered when they step onto the pitch together, even into their late thirties out in the United States.

LW: Neymar

Completing that outrageously dangerous Barcelona front three, Neymar unsurprisingly sits second behind Suarez for joint goal participation with Messi.

The Brazilian forward played 206 matches alongside Messi and directly combined for 67 goals, assisting him 40 times and being assisted by him 27 times.

Neymar is the only player in this XI to have played with Messi at PSG.

Lionel Messi Team-Mates most appearances all-time Barcelona PSG Argentina Luis Suarez Jordi Alba