Arsene Wenger admitted Arsenal were left floundering by 'the best player in the world' as Lionel Messi fired Barcelona into the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
The Gunners simply could not cope with the Argentina ace, who scored all four of Barca's goals in their 4-1 victory to complete a 6-3 aggregate success at Camp Nou.
Nicklas Bendtner had opened the scoring for the visitors as Wenger's men started brightly, but Messi immediately took control with a 21-minute first-half hat-trick of astonishing quality.
Fittingly, it was Messi who had the final word on the match with his fourth in the closing moments, leaving all who witnessed the match left with no option but to salute his astonishing talent.
Wenger told Sky Sports: "For me, he is the best player in the world by a distance.
"He is not always in the game, but when he is in it he is really dangerous. Once he is on the run with the ball he is unstoppable.
"He is the only player who can change direction at such a pace and be a threat.
"We lost against a team that is better than us and has the best player in the world. Congratulations to Barcelona, they were better than us."
Despite his praise for Messi and the holders, Wenger felt his side let themselves down at both ends of the pitch over the two legs.
He added: "We had opportunities. The regret we have is that at 1-0 we had great opportunities to score a second goal.
"Over the two games, for a team like Arsenal, we gave really cheap goals away.
"Defensively we gave them the goals, they didn't have to work hard enough.
"They didn't look really dangerous, but when you have players like Messi, any mistake you will pay for it."