Barcelona strengthened their position at the La Liga summit with a crucial 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao at the San Mames Stadium.
Messi was on target, scoring his 16th goal from 15 games so far this season, with Paulinho then getting in on the act.
Paulinho has defied critics since signing for Barcelona from Guangzhou Evergrande, with many expecting the Brazilian to struggle given how poorly he had performed at Tottenham.
Paulinho’s fine displays have helped Barcelona get off to a blistering start under Ernesto Valverde.
But other players’ performances have left much to be desired.
Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta remain as consistent as ever, but the latter is entering the twilight years of his career.
Ivan Rakitic, meanwhile, has flitted in and out of the side while the much-maligned Andre Gomes is expected to depart in the New Year.
Yet, despite that, Spanish website Don Balon claims Lionel Messi thinks the club need to invest in a player capable of operating in the middle of the park.
Don Balon say Messi felt Barcelona did not do enough to get the ball back against Bilbao last night.
And he also reckons Valverde does not trust Denis Suarez.
Philippe Coutinho could fit the bill for Barcelona, with the Liverpool star still on their radar.
Whether or not they can strike a deal for him in the New Year, however, remains to be seen.