Messi at centre of Barcelona title success, says Valverde

By Sacha Pisani 28 April 2019 33
Messi at centre of Barcelona title success, says Valverde

Ernesto Valverde hailed the importance of superstar Lionel Messi following Barcelona's eighth LaLiga triumph in 11 years.

Messi came off the bench and scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Levante on Saturday – delivering a 26th league crown for Barca.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner's 33rd LaLiga goal of the season saw him clinch his 10th league medal – surpassing Andres Iniesta.

Barca head coach Valverde – whose team are also in contention to win the Champions League and Copa del Rey – heaped praise on Messi post-game, telling reporters: "I can't say much more about Leo Messi.

"Messi is at the centre of all of this. The time he's spent at Barca, as well as eras where there've been different coaches, the Leo Messi era has had a lot to do with him.

"If there was any protagonist or any name above anyone else it's him. We're not going to deny it, he's the person who defines our style in a certain way, and his level of competitiveness pushes us all."

Barca team-mate Luis Suarez – who has netted 21 LaLiga goals this term – added via Movistar: "We have to be realistic that he is the best player in the world of all time.

"We have to enjoy him every minute he plays, we have to be proud of how great he is."

The treble is alive for Barca, who are preparing for a Champions League semi-final showdown against Liverpool.

Barca are also set to face LaLiga rivals Valencia in the Copa del Rey decider, with president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisting winning the treble is the "objective" for the Spanish powerhouse.

Asked about the treble, Suarez said: "We are in the line of working and being aware that on Wednesday we will play one of the biggest games [against Liverpool] we have all season and we have to do two big games if we want to achieve our goal."

"These are two very important things for us [Champions League and Copa del Rey]," said Barca defender Clement Lenglet. "Now that we have this league we have to enjoy it but we also have to prepare ourselves for the matches that are coming, we will suffer again."

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Sacha Pisani