"It is totally fair that the best player in history is the one who has defended Barca's colours the most times," Xavi Hernandez told Mundo Deportivo ahead of Barcelona's La Liga clash against Huesca.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi runs with the ball during the the Copa del Rey semifinal, second leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday March 3, 2021.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi runs with the ball during the the Copa del Rey semifinal, second leg, soccer match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday March 3, 2021. (AP)

Lionel Messi celebrated his record-equalling 767th appearance for Barcelona by scoring two goals in a 4-1 La Liga victory over Huesca which helped the Catalans to move within four points of the top of the table.

First-half strikes from Messi and Antoine Griezmann looked to have put Barca in the driving seat. However, a Rafa Mir penalty against the run of play halved the deficit on the stroke of halftime.

A first goal for the club by defender Oscar Mingueza restored Barca's two-goal cushion eight minutes after the restart.

Mir missed a golden chance to pull one back when he headed over from close range as the visitors sought a way back into the game, before Messi rounded off the win in the final minute of normal time.

The victory lifted Barca to 59 points in second place, four behind table-toppers Atletico Madrid.

Huesca, meanwhile, remain bottom of the table on 20 points, four from safety.

Messi equalled Xavi Hernandez's all-time appearance record for Barcelona.

The Argentine, who joined Barca aged 13 in 2000 before making his first team debut four years later, moved level with Hernandes on 767 appearances.

He now holds the record alongside being the club's all-time highest goalscorer with 359 and most-decorated player having lifted 34 pieces of silverware in Blaugrana.

He has also racked up the most assists (289), hat-tricks (48) and has won the Ballon d'Or a record six times.

Messi will have the chance to become the outright holder next Sunday when Barca travel to Real Sociedad.

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"It could only be Leo"

Xavi spent 17 years at Barcelona before leaving in 2015 and is now the coach of Al-Sadd in Qatar.

"It could only be Leo," Xavi told Mundo Deportivo on Monday.

"It is totally fair that the best player in history is the one who has defended Barca's colours the most times."

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies