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The hairy hitman: Messi's beard reaches half-century of goals!

6:58 AM GMT+8 06/04/2017
Lionel Messi Barcelona
Leo introduced his shaggy companion to the world during the Copa America, and since then has not stopped scoring for either Barca or Argentina

Has Lionel Messi's beard sent the Barcelona star onto another level? The numbers seem to suggest so!

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner first sported his new facial hair at the Copa America Centenario back in June 2016, abandoning his previously clean-cut look. 

And while he narrowly missed out on a first senior trophy with the Albiceleste, his form since abandoning the razor has been nothing short of astonishing. 

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Tuesday marked bearded Messi's 50th official game, and he celebrated the occasion in style with two goals to down Sevilla in a 3-0 victory at Camp Nou. 

That double brought him up to 51, a strike-rate of more than a goal a game. 

Ironically, his final beard-less game had also come against Sevilla, where the first signs of stubble can be seen on the maestro's face as he led Barca to Copa del Rey glory in May 2016.

Of his hirsute half-century no less than 43 goals have come in Barcelona colours, including 27 Primera Division hits which put him in pole position to be crowned top scorer at the end of the season. 

He also netted five times in the Copa America with Argentina, with further goals coming in CONMEBOL qualifiers against Uruguay, Colombia and Chile.

Does Leo have what it takes to be named the Pilose Pichichi? It will certainly be a close shave with Luis Suarez hot on his heels.