Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman hailed Lionel Messi as the most important player in the club’s illustrious history after he struck twice on his record-equalling 767th club appearance.
The 33-year-old scored his side’s first and fourth goals as Barca climbed into second place in the table following a comprehensive 4-1 LaLiga victory over Huesca.
Messi matched Xavi’s all-time appearance record in the Barcelona shirt, a career which includes winning 34 trophies and now scoring 661 goals since he made his debut in 2004, with 27 so far this season.
“I cannot say more about Leo,” Koeman told a press conference reported by marca.com
“The level he has for many years, many games…he has equalled Xavi and on Sunday in principle he will surpass him.
“He is the most important man in the history of Barca. Luckily he is still with us.”
Messi put Barcelona ahead in the 13th minute before Antoine Griezmann doubled the hosts’ tally 11 minutes from half-time.
In the final moments of the first half, Huesca were awarded a penalty on VAR review for a foul on Rafa Mir, who also dispatched the spot-kick to halve Barcelona’s advantage.
Messi then turned provider for Barcelona’s third which Oscar Mingueza headed home for his maiden club goal and the Argentinian completed the scoring at the death.
Reflecting on the match itself the Barca boss said: “I’ve always said there was a lot of LaLiga (matches this year).
“It is difficult for any team to win matches throughout the year. The points we lost for a few weeks (were many). We have reacted well.
“The team is confident. We cannot lose more points because we have already lost quite a few.”
The result leaves Huesca at the bottom of the table and four points from safety, but manager Pacheta said his side put in a worthy performance.
“We are conceding a lot of goals,” he said. “Today there are three goals, two for the squad, another that touches a defence.
“We will have to shake hands. We have played a very worthy game even though the result is disappointing. I am proud of the team.
“We have done many things that are good. We have had goal situations. We have been involved in the game.
“Now our fight begins. I don’t like to talk about finals but now we have to get four points more than three teams.”