Only Lionel Messi will know whether last night’s victorious outing against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey down in La Cartuja was his last final for Barcelona, note Mundo Deportivo. The win marks his 35th title as a Barcelona player, with eight games to add a 36th in the shape of La Liga. His performance was stellar, epitomised in the way he took Barcelona’s third goal against the Basque side, driving from deep with his mythical guile, connecting perfectly with Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann before scoring.
It meant Messi reached 30 goals this season, and then 31. The Argentine has hit 23 league goals so far this campaign, as well as five in the Champions League and three in the Copa del Rey. He still has an enormous amount to offer at 33, finding his feet after beginning the season crestfallen and depressed following the infamous burofax situation. Ronald Koeman deserves credit in managing that situation well, helping him find his form. From September to the end of December he scored ten goals. From January to today, 21.
Messi also took a record from Telmo Zarra, the legendary Athletic forward, on Saturday night in Seville. He became top scorer in Copa finals with nine, ahead of the eight the aforementioned scored in the 1940s and 1950s. The crowning moment of the night was undoubtedly that third goal, with the Argentine starting wide right before coming inside, combining with De Jong and Griezmann, and passing the ball into the back of the net.