Together they have won every club Trophy possible at Barcelona and with Andres Iniesta added to mix, the trio of Xavi Hernandez, Iniesta and Lionel Messi was touted to be one of football’s greatest ever troika. And although the first two have left the Catalan club to outspread their wings on green pastures elsewhere, they still share each other’s pain.
It was “unfair” to deny Messi the Ballon d’Or this year, says Xavi, now a brand ambassador of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
“In my opinion, it’s not fair. He is the best player I have seen ever,” added the former Barca and Spain midfield general talking of the Argentine superstar. “I will give Messi the Ballon d’Or every year but I don’t give the award.”
Croatia captain and Real Madrid player Luka Modric was decorated with the top-honour this season, breaking the Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo monolithic grip on the prize. Messi, a five-time winner of the award, was bizarrely placed fifth in final standings.
Since then the Argentine has scored five times in two league matches, including a 17-minute hat-trick against Levante on Sunday. His spectacular performance meant Barcelona continue to stay on top of the points table with 34 points after 16 rounds of games, still three clear of Sevilla.
Courtesy his hat-trick, the Catalan giants thrashed Levante 5-0 at the Ciutat de Valencia Stadium to extend their unbeaten streak to four La Liga matches.
It was Messi’s 31st hat-trick in the league and took his goal-scoring tally to 14 league goals for the season. He completed the evening with two more assists for Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique.
A first glimpse of the Argentine great was on display in the 35th minute when he laid on a perfect no-look through ball for Luis Suarez to break the deadlock.
Messi scored his first two minutes before the opening half ended when he latched onto a defence-splitting pass from Sergio Busquets and slotted the ball home with his weaker right foot.
The four minutes after the interval, he scored again finishing a low Jordi Alba cross into the bottom corner before completing the feat at the hour mark. That was, however, not the end and two minutes before the whistle he found Pique to seal the victory.