Madrid: Not content with merely getting his name on the scoresheet, Barcelona's insatiable forward Lionel Messi has set the bar even higher for himself in La Liga this season by netting at least twice in each of the seven games he has scored. The Argentine World Player of the Year grabbed his sixth double of the campaign in Sunday's 4-2 win at Real Mallorca to take his tally to a league-leading 15, including a hat-trick at Deportivo Coruna last month.
The 25-year-old, who recently became a father for the first time and is favourite to claim a fourth consecutive World Player award when the winner is announced in January, has struck 76 times for club and country in 2012. Sixty-four of those were for Barca and 12 for Argentina and he is closing in on the record for a calendar year of 85 set by German Gerd Mueller in 1972.
He bagged 50 goals in La Liga last season, smashing Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo's record of 40 from the previous campaign, and was top scorer in the Champions League for an unprecedented fourth straight edition. "Leo is constantly breaking records and his goal-scoring statistics are spectacular," Barca coach Tito Vilanova, who has known Messi since he was a teenager in the club's youth academy, told a news conference after the Mallorca match.
"There are great players who need seven or eight seasons to score the number of goals he scores in one campaign," he added. "You also have to remember that some of them are genuine stunners." Messi has a chance to add to his tally when Argentina play Saudi Arabia in a friendly on Wednesday and Barca host Real Zaragoza in La Liga on Saturday.