Lionel Messi has dominated the headlines for Barcelona since their 2019-20 season finished, but he showed little sign of letting off-field matters impact his performances as he helped secure a 4-0 win over Villarreal.
Barca were in action on Sunday for the first time since losing 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals last month, a result that seemed to start a tumultuous chain reaction at the club.
Quique Setien was sacked and replaced by Ronald Koeman, Luis Suarez was deemed surplus to requirements and ultimately sold, that angered an already disillusioned Messi – who attempted to force a transfer, and supporters subsequently launched a bid to oust president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
But the Blaugrana returned to the pitch and blew Villarreal away to begin the Koeman era victoriously, Barca's baggage seemingly left to one side and forgotten about for an evening at Camp Nou.
Messi was at the fore as he usually is and, after seeing Ansu Fati terrorise the visitors with two early goals, the superstar Barca captain dispatched a penalty that the teenager won.
That goal meant Messi has scored in 17 successive LaLiga seasons, making him just the fourth player to ever achieve the feat.
Real Madrid greats Santillana and Sergio Ramos – who scored against Real Betis on Saturday – both netted in 17 consecutive LaLiga campaigns, with the former doing so between 1971 and 1988.
The only player to have scored in more successive LaLiga seasons is Agustin Gainza, who reached 19 straight campaigns for Athletic Bilbao from 1940 to 1959.
Given the uncertainty around Messi's future, one has to wonder whether the 33-year-old will make it to 18.