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Lionel Messi gave La Liga strikers a month’s head start. He’s top scorer now.

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Messi is back where he belongs

FC Barcelona v Real Mallorca - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Lionel Messi is back where he belongs, on top of the La Liga scoring charts. With a hat-trick against Mallorca, Messi jumped to 12 goals in the league, one ahead of Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. This, of course, is not a new position to be in for the Barcelona star.

Messi is the player who has won the Pichichi Trophy the most, along with Telmo Zarra. They both have six, with Messi claiming the past three on the bounce.

What’s amazing though, is how this all started. See, the league started on August 16th, but Messi was injured until he made his debut on September 21st, more than a month after. And then, he only played 45 minutes. He didn’t log 90 minutes until October 6th, a 4-0 win over Sevilla, in which, incidentally, he scored his first goal of the league season.

Gerard Moreno of Sevilla, Loren Morón of Real Betis, and Benzema were already on 6 goals then. But since, Messi has surpassed them all. He has scored 11 goals to Moreno’s 2, Morón’s 2, and Benzema’s 5 since that day, putting him 1 ahead of Benzema and 4 ahead of the rest.

After missing more than a month, Messi is top scorer after just two more months since.

On the European stage, Messi is not in first but you cannot count him out.

Once again, he gave everyone a head start. Robert Lewandowski was on 11 goals when Messi scored his first. The Bayern Munich striker is still ahead, with 16 goals, but that’s only 4 more than Messi now. In fact, since Messi scored his first goal, Messi has scored 11 while Lewandowski just 5.

The leader of the European Golden Shoe race is now Ciro Immobile. The Lazio striker had 9 goals the day Messi scored his first. Now Immobile has 17. It’s a 5 goal gap to make up, but Messi has made up some ground over Immobile already. Since the day Messi scored his first, Immobile has 8 to Messi’s 11.

Can he do it? Can Messi win the Pichichi and European Golden Shoe awards after being out for more than a month to start the season?