Lionel Messi last night surpassed the goal record set by Cesar Rodriguez during the 1940s and 50s to become Barcelona's all-time top scorer.
The reigning World Player of the Year netted his 232nd, 233rd and 234th Barcelona goals with a hat-trick in La Liga in a 5-3 victory against Granada at the Nou Camp.
His eighth hat-trick of the season saw him equal the record of 232 goals (which yesterday a study had revised down from 235) set by Rodriguez, a Spaniard who served Barcelona for 16 years and would later become their manager. He then secured the record outright in the 68th minute when he lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Julio Cesar. His third with four minutes to go wrapped up Barca's win.
Messi's hat-trick also saw him set a Spanish record of 54 goals in all competitions in a single season and overhaul Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of La Liga scoring charts on 34 goals.
Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola was full of praise for his star asset in what is a glittering Catalan side.
"We are witnessing the best [player] in every sense," he said at his post-match press conference.
"He does everything, and he does it every three days. I'm sorry for those that want to sit on his throne, but this lad is the best.
Guardiola went on to compare Messi's significance in the football world with that of Michael Jordan's impact on basketball during the 1990s.
"You have few players who dominate like this, but he does it. You can compare him perfectly to Jordan," said Guardiola.
Team-mates added to the praise for the Argentinian, with defender Gerard Pique saying on fcbarcelona.com: "It's a pleasure to be in the same generation as him, I believe he's the best player in the history of the sport.
"It doesn't matter where he plays, if it's cold or hot, he always proves that he's the best."
Goalkeeper Victor Valdes added: "Messi will mark an era. He'll be the best ever."
The Spanish media were equally gushing about a player to which it seems there are no bounds.
"At 24 years of age it is impossible to know what his impact on football will be," daily El Pais wrote.
"At the moment he is the best in the world, and he aspires to be the best of all time."
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