Following the club's embarrassing exit from the Champions League, the Barca captain announced his desire to leave the club. A week later, he would perform a u-turn and eventually stay, not wanting to enter any legal battle with the club he has been with since the age of 13.
So, Messi did feature in Barcelona's opening game of the season, and it was like nothing had changed for him as he was superb on the night.
Ansu Fati will grab the headlines with his two goals, but the Argentine was again the orchestrator of the win.
📷 Messi: Match Snapshot
The first half-hour belonged to Fati as he scored two superb goals.
Then, Messi was given the opportunity to get on the scoresheet as the 17-year-old was fouled inside the box.
⚽ ⏱️ 35' It wasn't the best spotkick by the Argentine, but he still managed to squeeze his strike under Sergio Asenjo.
For the fourth goal, although he won't be given an official assist, it was his delightful, clipped cross into the penalty area which forced Pau Torres into action, with the Villarreal defender subsequently poking an attempted interception beyond his own goalkeeper.
Barca certainly took their foot off the gas in the second period, but Messi and the full forward line enjoyed themselves in the huge amounts of space awarded to them.
He very nearly scored the goal of the game shortly after the break as he displayed magical footwork inside the box before stabbing a strike at goal which was tipped over the bar by Asenjo.
Messi was deployed in the centre-forward role by Ronald Koeman, and as such was (slightly) less inclined to come deep to receive the ball. His touches, therefore, were slightly down on what we are used to, but still at a healthy 83.
He completed 54 passes to team-mates, 34 of which were sent into the final third. That tally is more than anyone in this round of La Liga fixtures.
Messi was unlucky not to add more to his goalscoring tally, too, as he took a whopping seven shots on goal, four of which hit the target.
Overall, his performance earned him a 8.6 FC Rating.
〽️ Messi: Rating Week-on-Week
Messi's last competitive match was in the 8-2 destruction by Bayern, and although he wasn't as bad as most Barca players in that fixture, he scored a 6.6 FC Rating.
A huge bump up to 8.6 after the outing against Villarreal.
🗝️ Key Stats
Messi match stats
|Final Third Passes||34||Rank #1|
|On Target||4||Rank #1|
Messi: What Next?
But, Messi remains hungry and looked sharp against the Yellow Submarine.
Celta away should provide a sterner test.