Lonel Messi scored a brilliant hat-trick as Barcelona sealed a comfortable 4-0 win over Deportivo on Sunday. Messi followed up a brilliant showing in last weekend’s 3-1 La Liga win at home to champions Atletico Madrid with a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Deportivo La Coruna which kept Barca hard on the heels of leaders Real Madrid.
Reports have been swirling about a rift between Messi and Luis Enrique, with the four-times World Player of the Year apparently unhappy with the Barca coach’s management style and tactics and said to be seeking an exit from the club he joined at the age of 13.
Messi responded by saying he was not thinking of leaving but he has not explicitly denied claims his relationship with Luis Enrique has broken down.
Whatever the reality of the situation, if Messi continues his prolific scoring form Barca will have a good chance of returning to winning ways this term after failing to win major silverware in 2013-14 for the first time in six years.
“He has been playing at a phenomenal level the whole season,” Luis Enrique told a news conference on Sunday.
“He has not dropped off at any moment” added the former Barca and Spain midfielder, who took over from Messi’s compatriot Gerardo Martino at the end of last season.
Messi’s treble was his 22nd in La Liga, one fewer than Real Madrid’s Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who beat Messi into second place to win a third FIFA Ballon d’Or award on Monday.
Messi, voted the world’s best player four times between 2009 and 2012, has hit 30 hat-tricks for Barca in all competitions and three for Argentina.
Real, who have a game in hand, top La Liga on 45 points at the halfway point of the season, with Barca second on 44 and Atletico third on 41.