Barcelona boss Quique Setien described Lionel Messi as “the best in the world” after the Argentinian striker contributed four goals to his side’s 5-0 defeat of Eibar.
Claiming his first in the 14th minute, Messi rounded off a dominant first-half display with a quickfire double to secure his hat-trick before half time.
Eibar pushed to make amends in the second half but were held off until the 87th minute, when Messi struck again with a fourth goal and Arthur sealed the victory with a fifth just two minutes later.
The result means Barca top the LaLiga standings, two points ahead of Real Madrid, who face Levante on Saturday evening.
Setien said the victory was the perfect preparation for what will be a significant week for the club as they prepare for an encounter with Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday and then face Real Madrid for the Clasico fixture on Sunday.
“We have been waiting for a result like this, where everything goes in our favour,” he said in a post-match interview with Marca.
“In other games we have not finished the chances we have created, but today we have.
“The three goals before the break have given us peace of mind ahead the second half, and we have an important week ahead.”
Emergency signing Martin Braithwaite made his Barca debut during the fixture, taking to the pitch in the 72nd minute and providing the assist to Messi’s fourth goal.
Setien added: “Messi has been doing this for 14 or 15 years and will continue to do so. It is a guarantee. The reality is that he is always there. If it is not with goals, it is with assists. That is why he is the best in the world, because he solves what others cannot.”
Eibar manager Jose Luis Mendilibar also spoke of his admiration for the Barcelona captain after the heavy defeat that leaves his side without a win in four league games.
“I have all the respect in the world for Messi,” he said at the post-match press conference.
“He knows how to rest. He knows how to be. Until the first goal he had touched few balls, and those that he touches do a lot of damage.”
Mendilibar accepted that Barca’s victory was decisive and did not make any excuses on behalf of his squad.
“We know that they don’t need much to score. From the first goal they have played comfortably, without rushing. They make you doubt a lot because they play between the lines.
“With it being 3-0 at the break, we had little to get out it.
“It has been a clear result and there have been no excuses.”
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