Lionel Messi hat-trick sees him become Barcelona's all-time top scorer
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."
Latest in Sport
Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City: £58m deal hits the rocks as Wolfsburg admits they're 'in no rush' to sell former Chelsea midfielder
Pogba to Chelsea: Blues set to smash British spending record with £70m midfielder and £34m John Stones
Manchester City face another struggle to make an impact in Champions League
Javier Hernandez: Great night for Manchester United, terrible night for Chicharito
Paul Pogba to Chelsea: Transfer news live - John Stones latest, Gareth Bale and Neymar to Manchester United, Edinson Cavani to Arsenal
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn