Congratulations to Lionel Messi!
With his 68th goal in all competitions this season, Lionel Messi has now completed the most prolific season in the history of European football.
In the 64th minute of Barcelona's home match against Malaga, Messi completed a hat trick and broke Gerd Muller's record of 67 goals in a season—which Muller set in the 1972-73 campaign with Bayern Munich.
Before the match, Muller had the following to say to Mundo Deportivo about the inevitable breaking of his nearly 40 year old record:
"Technically, Messi is superb," Muller said. "His goals are brilliant. And despite being a genius, he's not a selfish player. There have been many great goalscorers. It means a lot that my record has stood for 40 years.
"[But] records are there to be beaten. I'd be the first to congratulate Messi if he scores 68 goals this season, it'd be an honor."
What a feat for the young Argentinian, widely regarded as the world's best player and one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Messi matched his output from Barcelona's first match against Malaga back in January.
He entered the match just a single goal away from Muller's record and level with Cristiano Ronaldo in number of La Liga goals this season.
The 24-year-old tied the mark with his second of two penalties in the 59th minute before setting his own record just five minutes later.
Messi beat Malaga's offside trap on an exquisite pass from Andres Iniesta. He received the ball at full speed, controlled it and chipped it over Kameni before running to complete the shot into an open net.
Messi has now netted 45 times in La Liga and leads Ronaldo by three goals in the Pichichi race. He also matched Ronaldo's current record of seven hat tricks in a single season.
This is not the first record Messi has set this season. He scored 14 goals in the Champions League, which tied the record for most in a single campaign during the Champions League era.
He is also the current record holder for most goals in a single La Liga season. He will be battling Ronaldo to end the season as the all-time record holder in that category.
Beyond La Liga and the Champions League, Messi scored three goals in the Spanish Supercup, two in the Copa del Rey, two in the Club World Cup and one in the European Supercup.
Here is a clearer breakdown:
La Liga— 46
Spanish Super Cup—3
Copa del Rey—2
FIFA World Club Cup—2
UEFA Super Cup—1
Messi will almost certainly put his own record nearly out of reach with three games left to play this season. He has a strong chance to break 70 goals this season.
Barcelona still plays Espanyol and Real Betis in the league before finishing the season against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.
Congratulations again to Lionel Messi for setting the European single-season goal-scoring record with his 68th goal of the season.
As it stands, Messi is having the greatest goal-scoring season in the history of European and Spanish football.