Hat-trick by Messi the key as Barca rout Espanyol

Hat-trick by Messi the key as Barca rout Espanyol

Hat-trick by Messi the key as Barca rout Espanyol

Lionel Messi plundered a hat-trick and substitute Ousmane Dembele came off the bench to set up a late goal for Luis Suarez as Barcelona romped to a 5-0 win in the Catalan derby against Espanyol at the Nou Camp.

Reigning champions Real Madrid are four points behind Barca after they dropped points for the second game in a row as Ivi's early opener earned Levante their share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.

Pele thinks the move will help the player grow, insisting that he can match the stardom he has achieved in the Brazilian national side, away from the looming spectre of Lionel Messi.

But new coach Ernesto Valverde has refocused his players on the league, and Messi has done the rest by scoring five goals to lead the competition.

He got his second by sliding to redirect Jordi Alba's pass by goalkeeper Pau Lopez.

The players have returned from their global sojourn and the player who grabs most of the eyeballs, Lionel Messi, for one, is not happy.

Dembele has the unenviable task of replacing the departed Neymar and Barca's 105 million-euro man had to wait until 22 minutes from time for his debut as he replaced Gerard Deulofeu to a standing ovation.

It was then time for Dembele's triumphant arrival, with fellow new arrival Paulinho on his way shortly afterwards.

The France youngster is at Barcelona to target the summit of the world game and needed to look no further than the match-winner playing inside him to see exactly what that looks like.

Spanish giants Barcelona have crushed La Liga side Espanyol 5-0 in the Spanish league taking them to the zenith of the league with nine points from three games.

The club promised two signings in the last week of the transfer window and none arrived and Bartomeu was booed by fans at Dembele's presentation in the Camp Nou stadium.

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