Lionel Messi is now the bookmakers’ firm favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or following a spectacular start to the calendar year.
The Barcelona captain now has 45 goals in all competitions this season - from just 42 matches - and inspired his team to qualification for the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday night.
Messi scored two goals in four first-half minutes to effectively kill off the tie against Manchester United, who were unable to deal with the 31-year-old at the Camp Nou.
He went close to completing his hat-trick with a stunning overhead kick but it was Philippe Coutinho who added gloss to the scoreline with a screamer from distance.
"Lionel Messi is top quality and he was the difference, of course,” United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was quoted as saying by BBC Sport after the match. “At 2-0 straight after, it was game over. Messi showed his quality."
Messi has now scored 24 goals against Premier League opposition in the Champions League - more than any other player, and twice as many as Cristiano Ronaldo.
Furthermore, the South American is currently outscoring every other player in European football.
But how much does Messi really care about stats?
He must care to some extent, or else it’s hard to imagine that he would have scored quite as many goals during his illustrious career.
Messi has netted a staggering 608 goals for Barcelona, plus a further 65 for Argentina.
Is it possible to score this many goals if you’re not bothered by stats?
Perhaps not - unless you’re Messi.
A video has emerged of Messi being told that he’d scored his 50th hat-trick following Barça’s 4-2 win over Sevilla back in February - and it shows that he cares little for individual stats.
“You know this was your 50th hat-trick?” Messi is asked.
“Oh, was it?” he replies.
“Yes, 50 already. I think it’s six with Argentina and the rest with Barça.”
Messi responds: “Yeah? I didn’t know that stat. But well… three more points!”
While certain players are obsessed with their own individual stats, Messi clearly isn’t one of them.
He didn’t even know that he’d scored his 50th career hat-trick - it was just everybody else that was banging on about it.
Messi appeared to be genuinely more interested in the three points - and you have to admire him for that.
A true team player.News Now - Sport News