Messi pays tribute to Barcelona coach Guardiola

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- On the verge of becoming Barcelona's all-time leading goal scorer, Lionel Messi says the club's recent run of success has more to do with coach Pep Guardiola's arrival than performances like his five-goal game last week.

The Argentina forward has scored seven goals in the past week but says Guardiola is the club's most important individual because his "arrival changed everything, for (the players) and for the club."

Messi followed his five-goal outburst in the Champions League with two more strikes in Sunday's 2-0 victory at Racing Santander to move within five goals of matching the all-time club scoring record held by Cesar Rodriguez.

Messi has excelled under Guardiola, who has yet to announce whether he will continue with the club beyond this season.