Lionel Messi

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is to be awarded one Catalonia’s highest distinctions, the Creu de Sant Jordi.

The award was created in 1981 by the Catalan government to recognise individuals who have successfully contributed to the identity of the region.

Messi is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time, amassing five Ballon d’Or trophies and enjoying spectacular success at Barca since making his debut in 2004.

He has won 34 major honours – more than any other player in the club’s history – and is their all-time record goalscorer with 598 goals across all competitions.

Only Xavi has made more appearances for Barca than Messi, who has played 682 times for the senior team, having first joined the academy as a 13-year-old.

Messi is expected to line up for the LaLiga champions on Wednesday when they welcome Liverpool to Camp Nou for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

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