A day after it was learnt that Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi did not ask for a pay rise akin to the deal Cristiano Ronaldo recently signed at Real Madrid, the Argentine ace was at his sensational best nevertheless.
On Tuesday, when Barcelona boss Sandro Rosell was asked if Ronaldo’s contract renewal (he signed a five-year deal with Real worth 90 million euros) making him the Spanish League’s best-paid player, would affect Messi’s contract, he said: “Does Ronaldo’s renewal affect Messi’s contract? Messi hasn’t said anything to us. He’s happy here and he’s at the best club in the world.”
A day later, Messi simply went about his job in the best possible way he knows – by scoring goals! Messi moved into second place on the all-time list of Champions League goalscorers with his 27th career hat-trick as Barcelona beat Ajax 4-0 at the Nou Camp on Wednesday.
The four-time World Player of the Year now has 62 Champions League goals to his name as Barca cruised to victory in the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides. Messi opened the scoring on 22 minutes with a sensational free-kick and made the game safe 10 minutes after half-time with a typically cool left-footed finish.
Gerard Pique added a third when he headed Neymar’s cross past the stranded Kenneth Vermeer before Messi rounded off the scoring 15 minutes from time. And the visitors were even denied a consolation when Valdes saved Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s penalty 13 minutes from time after Javier Mascherano had upended Thurani Serero.
“In the first-half we found it a bit difficult because they played well, but in the second we moved the ball much better and controlled the game,” Messi told Canal Plus. “In general I think we played a very good game. The more variety we have the better.
There are games where we need to manage the ball, control the game, and others which are more difficult where we will need to do a bit more.” Messi took time to lend his support to coach Gerardo Martino, who flew back to Argentina yesterday to attend his father’s funeral. “It was a special game. It’s is a shame what has happened and he is suffering, but we are all with him in this moment.”
Ruud van Nistelrooy
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