A historic hat-trick against Bolivia gave Lionel Messi the men’s record for most goals scored by a South American international with 79, passing Pele’s mark of 77. However, Messi’s focus is on another Brazilian legend’s achievement.

The record Messi is now aiming for is that of most trophies in a career.

Currently, Dani Alves holds the record. Alves won 43 trophies with six clubs and Brazil in his 20-year career.

Most of his titles come from his time at Barcelona. During 2008-16, he won 23 titles with the Catalan club. Messi and the 2008-09 LaLiga Defender of the Season formed one of the most lethal partnerships in soccer history. They dominated the right flank with their interplay, passing combinations, overlapping runs, dribbling and playmaking abilities.

“I want to finish my last years competing for titles,” Lionel Messi said during his introductory press conference.

“I congratulate Dani Alves, who won the Olympic [gold] medal and I warn him that I am going to fight to catch up with him and surpass him. That is my mentality.”

The Brazilian actually played his most recent European soccer for the Parisians. Now, Messi, who had no choice in his departure from Barcelona, will seek more trophies at the Parc des Princes.

Lionel Messi not slowing down

Dani Alves pictured with the 2015 UEFA Super Cup won with FC Barcelona.

A gift that Alves shares with Lionel Messi is they make their teammates better with their decision-making and chance creation.

Even as a right-back, Alves led La Liga in assists during the 2006-07 campaign. Messi on the other hand, led La Liga in assists a record-six times. Having those attributes enhances the impact a player has on the rest of the squad. It also helps by sustaining your longevity because physical attributes wane, your mind gets sharper.

At 34, Lionel Messi still holds the title of best player in the world. The forward lifted the proverbial monkey off his back when Argentina defeated Brazil in the Copa America final, 1-0, thanks to an Angel di Maria goal.

“It’s crazy, the happiness the feeling is inexplicable; I knew that at some point it was going to happen,” said Lionel Messi after the Copa American final triumph.

“The objective was clear, and we were able to be champions. The happiness is immense. Many times, I have dreamed of this.”

Pundits often ridiculed the six-time Ballon d’Or winner due to his relative lack of success with La Albicileste. However, he led the tournament in goals, four, and assists, five. The continental competition came right after Messi won his eighth Pichichi, also a record, given to the most goals in the LaLiga season.

Messi currently has 37 trophies in his cabinet.

“It’s crazy, the happiness the feeling is inexplicable. I knew that at some point it was going to happen. The objective was clear, and we were able to be champions. The happiness is immense. Many times, I have dreamed of this,” said Messi in after the Copa America final.

New Challenges

Now that the 12-time Argentine Footballer of the Year is in France, his club will participate in two domestic cup competitions. The Coupe de France is their equivalent to the FA Cup and the Coupe de la Ligue serves as the French League Cup. It is possible that Messi ties his former teammate’s trophy record in 2023.

But, Alves is still active as well. He is a free agent after Sao Paulo released the veteran due to the club owing delayed salary payments. Even at 38, he is still a player that can help many teams around the world.

“He is in impressive physical shape. The maturity he has speaks for itself,” Brazil’s U-23 coach Andre Jardine said about Alves.

“He is very experienced and is very clear on every decision he makes. He is an example to all Brazilian footballers.”

It will be interesting to see where Alves lands.

On the other hand, Lionel Messi is on a mission to break the trophy record.

Alves will not make the task easy as he also looks to add more to his resume.