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By ESPN Staff

Guardiola running out of words for Messi

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admits he has run out of superlatives to describe Lionel Messi following another stunning performance from the Argentinian ace.

• Forum: How do you stop Messi?

Messi hit three goals without reply at Real Zaragoza, his second hat-trick in as many league games, to take his tally to 34 in all competitions and 11 in the last five matches - including a midweek brace against Stuttgart in the Champions League.

The 22-year-old could have had a late fourth but he was tripped in the area and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - despite yet another ineffective performance in a Barca shirt - converted the penalty to secure the Catalans a 4-2 victory.

"Put in the superlatives yourselves, I'm running out,'' Guardiola told journalists after the match. "It's already been a while now that he has been outstanding.

"He's more than decisive in every way. That he's capable of doing everything that he does at his age is something impressive, that doesn't make any sense.''

Messi was a major doubt before the match as he was suffering from a dental abscess. And Guardiola admitted it would have been hard to leave him out, with the youngster also desperate to play.

"It wasn't an infection in the tooth, it was in the gum. He was in a lot of pain. But in the morning I asked him how he was and he told me that he was better,'' added the Barca boss.

"Before the game I asked if he wanted to play and he said yes, I asked him how many minutes and he told me the whole game. He always wants to play, whether it's the Champions League final or against a third-division side.

"For me it's difficult to leave him out, seeing the form he's in. He's an amateur in this sense, he always wants to play. Obviously his game has a great impact on our team. The day he's not there we will respond, knowing that with him we are better. There are others who will take on the responsibility that he is doing.''

Messi has scored 25 goals in the Primera Division this season and is well on course to take the Pichichi trophy for the league's top goalscorer. And he's in contention for the Europe-wide equivalent, the Golden Boot, in which he currently trails Wayne Rooney by a solitary strike.

Barca president Joan Laporta believes the FIFA World Player of the Year is firmly establishing himself as the best ever.

He said: "Messi has once again shown that he is a wonderful player and that he is, without doubt, the leader of Barcelona. He is the best player in the world and the best in the history of football.

"Along with (Johan) Cruyff and (Diego) Maradona he is the best player we have seen at Barca.''

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