Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has voiced his amazement at the stunning level Lionel Messi manages to play at weekLionel Messi in and week out.
Messi has been in sensational goal-scoring form for the Catalans yet again this season, although he was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, for once, when he missed a penalty in stoppage time as Barcelona were held to a goalless draw against Sevilla last week.
However, Guardiola, despite being so used to seeing the little Argentinean weave his magic on the pitch, continues to be amazed.
In comments reported on the club’s official website, he said: “I don’t think there has ever been a player in history that can do what he manages to do every three days. It’s unthinkable.
“People buy tickets just to see him play and he is doing something unique. To find a player that has managed to be so consistent for four years. Who is so fit, who fights so hard as him. I’ve never seen anything like it, such consistency. Perhaps I’m too young, but I never played with anybody like him and I have never coached a player like that either.
“He is a better player than anybody else, he has a gift.
Guardiola said Messi was well aware of the regard in which he’s held throughout the club.
“[Messi] knows very well what we all think, all of the coaching staff, the people that look after him, and the other players.
“We are all delighted with what he does, has done and will do. And of course nothing that we have done would have been possible without him. He is a different kind of player, his stats make him different and he lets you win games at all levels.
“There is never a game in which he doesn’t generate play. It’s undebatable as far as we’re concerned. If there is any debate, then so be it, but it doesn’t weaken him and it won’t weaken him.”
Barca bounced back after their Sevilla setback with a narrow 1-0 win over Granada midweeek and will be looking to keep pace with second-placed Real Madrid and surprise leaders Levante when they meet Real Mallorca on Saturday.
“They [Mallorca] have their weapons. Mallorca is a team which character, which [manager Joaquin] Caparrós gets into the players, and they’re a difficult opponent. We will have to play with our heads if we want the three points.
“We will have stick to our way of generating a lot of chances and making sure they don’t”.
Barcelona’s relatively sluggish start to the season has surprised many, but Guardiola is not overly concerned.
“I go by what I see in the matches. We may play well or badly, but we never fail to respond. Generally, they’re playing more than excellently and I’m more than satisfied. We are on good form and I’m delighted with what the team is doing.
“We have never been made to look like fools in four years, and that’s not easy in sport. That’s the greatest value of this team, and without that we would never have won 12 titles out of 15.”
Pointing out that always winning by massive scores could be detrimental to the team, the former Barca player said: “Sometimes it can be positive not to be so brilliant.
“It is not always good for us to win games by high scores because then people tend to start thinking that that is what should always happen”.