Madrid: Lionel Messi's hat-trick in Barcelona's 5-4 tightrope walk of a win over Deportivo La Coruna has brought the forward closer to beating Pele and Gerd Mueller's all-time calendar marks of 75 and 85 goals respectively.
Messi has now scored 71 goals in 2012, meaning that by his standards he is only a couple of games away from surpassing Pele's 1959 tally of 75 for Santos and Brazil, Catalan daily El Mundo Deportivo pointed out Sunday on its website.
"Messi now has 71 goals, 12 of those for Argentina, and has another eight weeks to boost the tally," the paper noted.
"Everything therefore points to him beating 'O Rei' ('king' Pele) and maybe also Mueller, who in 1972 .... piled up 85 with Bayern and the German national side," the Barcelona daily continued.
Messi, also looking for a fourth world footballer of the year award, has already set a new Barcelona record in scoring 59 goals already in 2012 this year - one more than his total in 2010.
He has also managed 15 league hat-tricks for Barca, with Saturday's effort moving him ahead of legendary former star Cesar.
A further two trebles in the Spanish Cup, three more in the Champions League and one in the Spanish Supercup mean he has 21 overall for his club.
Story first published on: Sunday, 21 October 2012 23:44 IST