Lionel Messi has reacted to equaling Xavi Hernandez’s all-time appearance record for Barcelona and said it’s a “great honor” to hit the landmark.
The Argentine made his 767th outing for the club in Monday’s 4-1 win over Huesca at the Camp Nou to match Xavi’s record for appearances.
Messi wrote on Instagram after the game, “it is a great honor to reach this number of matches played with FC Barcelona. Thanks to all the colleagues who accompanied me over the years, and to my family and friends for always being by my side.”
Messi celebrated hitting the landmark in typical style. The captain scored a brilliant goal to open the scoring, picked up an assist after teeing up center-back Oscar Mingueza and wrapped things up with the team’s fourth of the night.
The win makes it 17 games unbeaten in La Liga for Ronald Koeman’s men and moves the team above Real Madrid and back into second place in the table, now just four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
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More Messi Records
Yet it wasn’t the only record Messi set on Monday. The Argentine’s goals take him onto 21 for the season in La Liga, making him the first player to reach the landmark for 13 straight seasons.
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 15, 2021
Messi also now has 10 assists for campaign in all competitions and becomes just the second La Liga player, after team-mate Antoine Griezmann, to reach double figures for goals and assists in 2020-21, according to Opta.
The Barcelona captain’s two goals also see him extend his lead in the race to be crowned La Liga top scorer this season. Messi leads the way on 21 goals and is now three ahead of Lusi Suarez who is his nearest rival.
The Argentine picked up the Pichich Trophy for a record seventh time last season and has won the award for the last four years in a row.
Koeman Praises Messi
Messi’s performance drew plenty of praise from coach Ronald Koeman after the final whistle. The Dutch coach made it clear just how highly he thinks of the 33-year-old and how important he’s been to Barcelona, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“Messi has shown once again that he is the best. Especially in the first goal, which was fantastic. He deserves so much to be important to this team,” he said. “We see the level he has for so many years and games, he has equaled Xavi and on Sunday he will have one more game than him. He is the most important player in the history of Barça and thank goodness that he is still with us.”
Huesca forward Rafa Mir also made a telling comment after the game as he reflected on his team’s defeat at the Camp Nou. He told reporters, “Barça, with Messi, play with one more.”
The victory will offer Barca more encouragement they can go on and pip Atletico to the title. The Catalans play Real Sociedad next in La Liga on Sunday, while the league leaders welcome Alaves to the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.