In pictures: Messi's record-breaking year

After a year in which he broke Gerd Muller's record of 85 goals in a single year, and lifted a record fourth consecutive Ballon d'Or, we look back at the defining images of Lionel Messi in 2012.

January: Messi shows off the newly-won Ballon d'Or, his third in succession. Credit: PA
February: The Argentine takes a tumble against Valencia in La Liga. Credit: PA
March: Messi celebrates completing a sumptuous five-goal haul against Bayer Leverkusen. Credit: PA
April: Holding off three Real Madrid defenders looks like child's play. Credit: PA
May: Barcelona's players hail Messi after their victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final. Credit: PA
June: Wearing the colours of his country, the diminutive forward gets a lift from team-mate Gonzalo Higuain. Credit: PA
July: Stepping out with girlfriend Antonella at the wedding of Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta. Credit: PA
August: Another season dawns as Messi lines up for the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid. Credit: PA
September: Eyeing Gerd Muller's goalscoring record Leo? Credit: PA
October: After scoring 50 league goals in 2011-12 Messi is awarded the European Golden Shoe. Credit: PA
November: Scoring his 56th career Champions League goal against Spartak Moscow. Credit: PA
December: Messi performs his familiar escape act against Real Betis. Credit: PA