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MADRID: Barcelona great Lionel Messi’s new mark of 86 goals in a calendar year could last another 40 years, previous record holder Gerd Mueller said yesterday.
The 25-year-old forward reached another milestone in his phenomenal career with a La Liga double in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Real Betis, beating former West Germany striker Mueller’s 1972 tally of 85.
“I hope he scores a few more in the remaining matches of 2012 so that his record stands for another 40 years,” Mueller said in a statement issued through Bayern Munich where he works as a youth coach. Messi, who is expected to secure a fourth successive World Player of the Year award next month, has netted 74 times for Barca and 12 for Argentina this year.
He has scored 56 in La Liga, 13 in the Champions League, three in the King’s Cup and two in the Spanish Super Cup and still has two league matches and one King’s Cup game to play before the end of the year.
Mueller hit 72 goals for Bayern and 13 for then-West Germany in 1972 and was 27 when he set his mark.
“My record has stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 matches,” he said. “Now the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, has broken it and I am happy for him.
“Messi is an unbelievable player, a giant while also being a pleasant and rather reserved professional. Messi is fantastic - he has only one fault, he does not play for FC Bayern.”
Meanwhile, Spain yesterday hailed Lionel “Missile” Messi’s record-breaking 86-goal haul in 2012 and decreed Barcelona’s “Messidependence” is a blessing.
“Missile Messi. Leo leaves Torpedo Muller behind with 86 goals in a year,” cried the front page of Barcelona-based sports daily Sport.
“A Messi-anic victory,” gushed the newspaper’s columnist Josep Maria Casanovas of the Barca forward.
“We are lucky because we will always be able to say that we lived that wonderful year in which Messi scored 86 goals. It is a pleasure, a spectacle, a wonder to see the best player in the world in action,” he said.
Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo said the team were dependent on the Argentine striker after he pushed them into winning territory in a tough match against Betis.
“Messi played. And just as well. His two goals gave Barca victory over a proud Betis,” the paper said, hailing his “stratospheric record” of goals scored in a calendar year.
“Is there an absolute ‘Messidependence’?” asked the paper’s columnist Javier Gascon. “Yes. And so what? Thanks to that Tito Vilanova’s team is leader with 14 victories and a draw in 15 match days.”
Spain’s biggest selling sports paper, Marca, agreed.
“Using the word ‘Messidependence’ has a certain negative connotation. As if Barcelona was not capable of winning games but for its star. But in Barca they take it as a blessing. Yesterday, it was,” the paper said. “Having the Ballon d’Or in their ranks has been an undeniable privilege in the past three years,” the paper said. “To the contrary, using Leo and his ambition is very healthy when the going gets tough.” Mundo Deportivo had a word for his team mates, too.
“The stratospheric Argentine football player has behind him a team of stars, capable of accepting an indisputible hierarchy and helping him to be better every day,” the paper said.AGENCIES