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Alexis: I will not challenge Messi over free kicks

Barcelona attacker Alexis Sanchez has insisted that Lionel Messi will continue to take direct free kicks for the Blaugrana in the wake of his own sublime performance in Sunday's 4-0 La Liga win over Elche.

The Chile international netted a hat-trick to help his side to three points at Camp Nou, with one of his goals coming from a superbly taken set piece, with Messi still sidelined.

However, Alexis is happy for the Argentine to remain Barca's first-choice free kick taker.

"Leo is the one who takes direct free kicks and he will continue to do just that," the former Udinese star told reporters, before hailing head coach Gerardo Martino's positive influence.

"I believe Martino has given me the confidence that I needed as a player.

"A player who is high on confidence scores more goals."

Alexis' hat-trick saw him take his tally for the 2013-14 Liga campaign to 11 goals from 14 appearances, making him Barcelona's joint leading goalscorer.