During an illustrious 15-year career, Lionel Messi has eked out a plethora of records that are unlikely to be emulated any time soon.
Barcelona's talismanic captain, one of the last remnants of a soon-to-be-extinct one-club era, is the all-time top-scorer in La Liga (444) and has also provided the most assists in the competition (201) than any other player. In fact, Lionel Messi's contribution to the Blaugrana cause goes beyond numbers.
Messi's wizardry and brilliance on the football field has to be seen to be believed. Possessing a low centre of gravity due to his diminutive stature, the Argentinian has impressive upper-body strength to take on physically imposing opponents with elan.
Five players who have provided the most assists to Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi's prowess in compact spaces is almost other worldly while his ability to dribble at pace can make the world's best defenders look like school boys. Add to that his set-piece prowess and metronomic goal-scoring and assist-making abilities, and one can begin to fathom why Lionel Messi is the creative thrust of the Barcelona attack.
However, the brilliance of Lionel Messi would not have shone through to the extent it has if he was not surrounded by skilful players able to thread inch-perfect defence-splitting passes to areas of the pitch where Messi is at his lethal best, a singular aspect that best explains the wide chasm between the player's performances for Barcelona and Argentina.
On that note, let us have a look at the five players who have provided the most assists to Lionel Messi.
#5 Xavi Hernandez (35 assists)
Although Xavi Hernandez, more commonly known by his first name Xavi, played with Lionel Messi since the latter's Barcelona debut in 2004, it was during Pep Guardiola's famed tiki taka philosophy that the duo struck up a kind of telepathic understanding with each other.
Aided by the brilliant overlapping runs of Dani Alves on the right wing, Messi would cut inside with devastating effect as Xavi Hernandez threaded immaculate defence-splitting passes into spaces where the Argentine could capitalise on.
The partnership between Xavi and Lionel Messi continued to flourish long after the departure of Guardiola as the former was all too happy to play second fiddle to his younger teammate while tirelessly pulling the strings from the Barcelona midfield.
Messi, on his part, hasn't shied away from acknowledging the role of Xavi by paying him the best compliment possible:
"He is the best player in the history of Spanish football."
Incidentally, last season, Lionel Messi broke Xavi's long-standing La Liga record of most assists in a season.
#4 Neymar (36 assists)
During a trophy-laden four-season stint with the Blaugrana, the Brazilian, who is renowned for his dribbling prowess, versatility, goalscoring and playmaking ability, scored goals aplenty and also provided assists by the truckload - 77 to be exact - with almost half of them (36) going to Lionel Messi alone.
The duo struck up a great rapport both on and off the field, one that still continues despite the Brazilian leaving Barcelona in the summer of 2017 to join Paris St. Germain.
Messi was very vocal about Neymar rejoining Barcelona last summer, but the move eventually didn't materialise as the Catalan club never made a formal approach for the player.
“The truth is I would have loved him to come back to us. I understand some people were against it and that’s normal considering everything that happened and how he left us, but thinking about it on a sporting level, for me Neymar is one of the best players in the world."