Lionel Messi appears to be on a one-man mission to ensure that football’s major honours do not elude him in 2017.
The Barcelona superstar tasted La Liga title glory in 2016, but saw eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo gobble up the vast majority of the other collective and individual prizes on offer.
Messi, though, is staking an early claim for recapturing the Ballon d’Or and snatching FIFA’s Best Player award away from Real Madrid’s talisman.
The Argentine has started the calendar year in breathtaking form, and was at his scintillating best once again on Thursday evening in a Copa del Rey clash with Real Sociedad.
He netted from the penalty spot in a comprehensive 5-2 victory for Barca at Camp Nou, while also laying on two assists.
Nobody can match Messi’s return through the opening weeks of 2017, with Barca team-mate Luis Suarez and Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann his closest challengers in Spain.
Suarez can, however, claim to be topping his Camp Nou colleague in terms of overall assists since he completed a move to Catalunya in 2014.
All of this bodes well for Barcelona as they look to defend their La Liga and Copa del Rey crowns and push themselves back into Champions League contention, having already made it safely through to the last-16 stage.