Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is pleased he can finally enjoy Messi’s skill and getting a charge out on the right side of Lionel Messi masterclasses in the wake of seeing the five time Ballon’dor winner rouse an extensive 3-0 win over Italian giants Juventus in the Champions League.
Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique in the Camp Nou hot-seat for this season, having driven Espanyol, Villarreal, Valencia and Athletic Bilbao against the Catalan giants over the past decade.
Messi has been a magnificent steady for Barca amid that period and he was getting it done in Tuesday’s Group D opener, scoring on the stroke of half-time and finishing a fantastic double in the wake of making the second for Ivan Rakitic.
It was a virtuoso show on the back of a stunning hat-trick in Saturday’s 5-0 derby triumph against Espanyol and one to leave Valverde murmuring.
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“With Leo Messi, the feeling you have is that something good will always happen for us,” he told reporters.
“I suffered a lot when I had to face him as a coach but now I get to enjoy him. He’s involved in everything.
“Nobody saw the gap and he found it, but I emphasise the involvement of Messi from all points of view.
“He is one of the best players in the history of the club, it is normal to talk about him. He also has a great tactical understanding.”
A player who will one day hope to be spoken of so loftily is Barcelona’s record signing Ousmane Dembele, who showed flashes of inspiration but sometimes erred in the final pass on a mixed full debut.
“It is clear that he still has to improve although he did show good moments,” Valverde said.
“He has worked well but we have to go little by little. We’re going forward.”
Beating the team that eliminated Barcelona in last season’s quarter-finals continued a fine start to life at Camp Nou for Valverde, with his team having won three out of three in LaLiga without conceding on the back of the Supercopa de Espana reverse against Real Madrid.
“There’s a lot still to do but it was an important win,” he added. “It’s essential to win games to get the fans on our side.”