Lionel Messi has scored more than 40 senior hat-tricks for Barcelona and Argentina – and pretty much every one of them has been wonderful.
Messi has scored so many special goals in his career that choosing a list of his greatest goals would be nigh on impossible.
However, we have attempted to rank his best hat-tricks, taking the importance into account, but mainly using that extremely scientific method of subjectivity.
Messi’s hat-trick in April 2018 secured Barcelona their 25th La Liga title.
A first-time volley after a chip into the box from Luis Suárez was followed by two close-range finishes, but the first featured some typically wonderful dribbling inside the box in the build-up.
The goals Messi moved ahead of Mohamed Salah as Europe’s top goalscorer for the season and made it 42 league games unbeaten for Barca, but they couldn’t pull off an Invincibles record, losing 5-4 to Levante in their penultimate league game.
With Cristiano Ronaldo scoring three in the competition day before, Messi probably felt he had to match his rival.
He opened his account in this match with a delightful free-kick which went in off the post, while the second featured some more dribbling inside he area.
He rounded off the hat-trick after a mistake from the Ajax defence, firing in from the edge of the box.
Messi would want to distance his affiliation with Panama as much as possible, but this hat-trick was one of his most notable.
Why? Because he netted these coming on as a substitute in the second half.
Just returning from a back injury, Messi put three past Panama – a finish inside the box, a free-kick and a strike into the bottom corner – to secure Argentina a place in the knockout round of the Copa America Centenario.
When Pep Guardiola was quizzed before the game about how he was planning to stop Messi, he simply laughed.
Perhaps, having managed the Argentine for four years, he knew that all planning and preparation against a player of such talent would be pointless.
Messi got his first with a solo effort; Willy Caballero was nowhere to be seen for his second, as Messi scored a tap-in, while his third crept inside the near post to beat his fellow countryman once more.
There’re plenty of opinions about what year was the optimum year for pure tiki-taka, jaw-dropping Barca – and 2012 is certainly up there.
And where Barca shine, Messi glistens.
With this game – an unapologetic 7-1 bruising of one of Germany’s more reputable outfits – Messi became the first player to score five in a Champions League match.
So many of his goals here come from runs in behind the defence with Messi chipping the ball over the goalkeeper, in a period where Guardiola had firmly installed his tactical blueprint on Barca.
Messi scored three in this memorable El Classico encounter that finished 4-3 to Barcelona.
At 2-1 down, Messi levelled, before two penalties which saw Barca jump ahead of Madrid in the table.
The victory pushed Barca just a point behind their rivals in the title race, but it was Diego Simeone’s Atletico that won La Liga.
Messi would no doubt prefer not to remember the 2017-18 Champions League when Barca were beaten Roma in the quarter-finals.
He should feel a lot better after this hat-trick against PSV Eindhoven, his best a free-kick into the top-corner which couldn’t have been anymore pin-point.
His second was a first-time finish after latching onto Ivan Rakitić’s chip.
He secured another hat-trick after a lashing home from inside the box, after making a visionary run.
Argentina were facing the prospect of missing out on a World Cup spot for the first time since 1970.
And having gone a goal down to Ecuador through Renato Ibarra in the 2018 World Cup qualifying stage, it started to feel quite real.
They needed something special.
Step up, Messi. His three – a side-footed shot, a piledriver into the roof of the net, and a dazzling individual effort which took a wild deflection that he probably deserved – sent his nation to Russia.
When, at 19 years old, Messi scored three goals against Real Madrid, you must understand there was some dubiety around another player being dubbed “the next Maradona”.
But such was the conviction of one newspaper, they printed a Spot the Difference animation of the two players, the tagline underneath reading: “Don’t kill yourself trying – there is no difference.”
Here, as he took the game to Barca’s fiercest rivals, a long-haired, youthful Messi buries the ball in the net for his first.
A surging run from Ronaldinho saw the ball trundle to Messi as he made it two.
To round off a spellbinding showing from the teenager, his third was a show of things to come, taking it past an opponent and slotting the ball into the far corner.
We knew Messi was good, but we didn’t know he was that good.
Messi scored his fourth hat-trick of the calendar against Arsenal in the Champions League, while radio stations in the UK the next morning used buzz phrases like “the greatest ever.”
A match report in the Guardian said: ‘When the Frenchman [Arsene Wenger] pores over the DVD of this match, he will salivate like the rest of us. Arsenal could point to defensive errors as having contributed, but Messi’s finishes still took the breath away.’
Three goals came in 20 minutes: a strike on the edge of the box, a brilliant take and dink, followed by another after finding himself one-on-one.
His last came in the 88th minute, hitting home a rebound, in a match that finished 4-1 to Barcelona.
Arsenal’s goalscorer at the Nou Camp? One Nicklas Bendtner.