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Just when you think Lionel Messi has no more records left to break, Barcelona's magician does it again - this time taking the single-season La Liga assist record from his old teammate Xavi.
Messi equalled Xavi's previous record of 20 a week ago by setting up Arturo Vidal in Barca's 1-0 win over Real Valladolid, but he didn't stop there.
On the final day of the Liga season, he claimed the record outright in a 5-0 thrashing of Alaves, recording his 21st assist with a pass to Ansu Fati who opened the scoring. Nobody in the history of La Liga has ever reached this total, with Xavi's 20 assists - in 2008/09 - now in second place.
Most goals. :white_check_mark:
Most assists. :white_check_mark:
Another record for Leo Messi - most assists in a single #LaLigaSantander season. :blue_heart::crown::heart: pic.twitter.com/Ju3njcZWof
- LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) July 20, 2020
Messi also scored twice to confirm his place as the Spanish league's top scorer this season with 25 goals, Karim Benzema finishing second on 21. It was Messi's seventh Pichichi Trophy, which is - you guessed it - also an outright record.
It's also his fourth in a row, indicating the 33-year-old isn't slowing down (or at least not at a rate at which anyone else can catch him). He also owns the single-season Liga scoring record (50 goals in 2011/12).
However Sunday was about Messi's assist skills and while he shares a close bond with his former captain Xavi, this new record showcases what people have been saying about Barca's No 10 for ages.
Namely that his vision and passing skills are on a par with his dribbling and finishing - which is to say the highest possible quality.
It's testament to Messi that his performances have not dropped, even as Barcelona have struggled since the return of football. As well as blowing their narrow Liga lead and allowing Real Madrid to recapture the title, there has been deep unrest behind the scenes at Camp Nou - with rumours that their greatest player might even leave at the end of next season.
"We have been an erratic and weak team," said Messi in a forthright interview after Barcelona's defeat to Osasuna on Friday.
"Madrid did its part by winning all its matches, which is impressive, but we also helped them to win this league. We have to be critical of how we have played, starting with the players, and the rest of the club."
I hate doing the body language doctor stuff, but look at his reaction after scoring a free kick goal pic.twitter.com/UI4yMIk1pR
- Igor Mello (@SuperIgor) July 16, 2020
He also indicated the club would have to raise their game to stand any chance of winning this season's Champions League, claiming: "Playing like this we will lose against Napoli.
"We have to start from zero in the Champions League and blame ourselves for what went wrong."
Powerful stuff. At least the Catalan giants have Messi to assist them as they try to turn their season around against Napoli in August.
All imagery: PA Images
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