(CNN) -- Lionel Messi has been hailed as the greatest soccer player the world has ever seen following his extraordinary exploits for European champions Barcelona.
The 22-year-old has scored 10 goals in his past four games, including two hat-tricks in consecutive Spanish league matches.
The diminutive Argentina forward has kept Barcelona in the hunt for a second successive La Liga title, and his two goals against Stuttgart last Wednesday helped put the Champions League titleholders into the quarterfinals of Europe's premier club competition.
Sunday's treble against Zaragoza was his third this season, and his fifth since making his debut in 2004, taking him to 25 league goals this campaign -- five more than closest rival Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid, and two past his tally from last season with 11 games still to play.
Messi is now third on Barcelona's all-time scoring list, and has the chance to net his 200th goal for the club in Wednesday's league game against Osasuna.
After the Zaragoza game, Barcelona president Joan Laporta compared Messi -- who was named 2009's best player in the world -- with the club's legendary former stars Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff.
"He's the best player in the world right now and the best ever," Laporta told Barcelona's Web site. "Together with Cruyff and Maradona, he's the best we've seen at the club.
"He's a player who can change everything in a game, but he also works for the rest of the team. He's a real leader."
Coach Pep Guardiola said he had run out of superlatives to describe the performances of Messi, who has scored 11 of Barcelona's last 15 goals.
"He's been more than decisive, and you can tell he's feeling fit the way he gets involved in everything. I've run out of adjectives -- you'll have to put your own," Guardiola said.
"That he's capable of doing everything that he does at his age is something impressive. It doesn't make any sense."
Guardiola revealed that Messi had been in doubt for the Zaragoza game due to a gum infection in his mouth.
"He was in a lot of pain. But in the morning I asked him how he was and he told me that he was better. Before the game I asked if he wanted to play and he said yes, I asked him how many minutes and he told me the whole game," Guardiola told reporters.
"He always wants to play, whether it's the Champions League final or against a third-division side. For me it's difficult to leave him out, seeing the form he's in. He's an amateur in this sense, he always wants to play."
Messi has not always carried his amazing club form onto the international stage with Argentina, but he has the chance to redress that situation in June at the World Cup in South Africa.
"The person who most wants to see him succeed for Argentina is Messi himself, nobody should doubt that," Guardiola said.