Edging closer to a world-record goal tally, Lionel Messi has retained his place at the top of the AP Global Football rankings this week.
The Argentina forward was the overwhelming choice of best player by The Associated Press' panel of 19 global football journalists, earning 161 out of a possible 190 points after his two goals against Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league.
Messi's brace helped Barcelona to a 5-1 win on Saturday, which keeps the Catalan club top of the team rankings with 155 points.
Messi is only one goal away from matching German great Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old goalscoring record of 85 goals in a calendar year.
''Another week, another two Lionel Messi goals and another Barcelona win.'' said Mike McGrath, of Wardles news agency and The Sun. ''It is now only a matter of when Messi will break Mueller's record, rather than if.''
Cedric Rouquette of Eurosport was also generous in his praise of the diminutive Argentine, adding: ''Messi continues to walk on water.''