LIONEL MESSI has effectively wrapped up the 2016-17 European Golden Shoe — despite failing to score at the weekend.
Barcelona eased past Las Palmas as Neymar’s hat-trick sealed a 4-1 win.
And they remain the only La Liga club the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who looks set to equal Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of four Golden Shoes, has failed to score against.
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But, regardless of his unusual blank, Messi remains four goals clear of second-placed Bas Dost on 35, who has just one match remaining this season with Sporting.
The Dutchman has been a revelation this season and put up a good show in the battle to be crowned Europe’s leading marksman.
However, only five in the final match of the season at home to Chaves would give him any hope of winning the gong outright.
And then he must hope Messi fires another blank in Barcelona’s last game of the season — at home to Eibar.
Robert Lewandowski is a place further back with 30, meaning six in Bayern Munich’s last game of the campaign at home to Freiburg is his only option.
The highest Premier League goal scorer, Romelu Lukaku, has 24 goals, which puts him 12th on the list.
Barring a miracle, it will mean that since 2007-08, in all but one year, the winner of the Shoe has been either Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez or Messi.
Suarez and Ronaldo won a gong each at Manchester United and Liverpool.
Suarez won the award last season and shared it with Ronaldo in 2014 when his 31 Premier League goals almost brought the title to Anfield.
Diego Forlan, in 2008-09, is the only other man to claim the award since Francesco Totti was Europe’s No.1 marksman two years previous.