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Pep Guardiola explains how Lionel Messi would affect his tactics at Barcelona

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Just because Cristiano Ronaldo is odds-on to retain the Ballon d'Or this year doesn't mean Lionel Messi has necessarily had a poor season.

Remarkably, the Barcelona star scored 54 goals from 52 appearances for Luis Enrique's side but remains unlikely to usurp his Portuguese rival when it comes to the awards season.

Although his team fell short in the Champions League and La Liga, Messi was still able to create one of the most iconic moments of the season with his late winner in April's El Clasico.

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Despite Gianluigi Buffon's best efforts, it's clear Messi and Ronaldo are still streaks ahead of anyone else in the world right now, though.

And one of his former managers has reiterated his admiration for the soon-to-be 30-year-old.

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Some of Messi's best form came in Pep Guardiola's all-conquering team between 2008-2012, where they won three La Ligas and two Champions League titles.

"We'd like to be inside Messi's brain," Guardiola told Catalunya Radio, as per Sport.

"He is a genius, one of the greatest athletes of all time, not just footballers."

Barcelona's coach Josep Guardiola (R) ce

It goes without saying but having someone as good as Messi at your disposal would often ensure three points were secure even before some matches had kicked off.

Now at Manchester City, Guardiola revealed how the Argentine international would affect his planning and tactics before matches.

The plan was simple: get the ball to Messi.

He added: "The greatest advantage of having Leo on your team is that the other 10 players know they have Leo on their team and that sooner of later he will do ‘it’.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-CELTA

"I was his coach and we were planning and I thought that: we will get the ball to Messi and that’s that, we will score. Only the best of all time can do that.

"It’s brutal how he goes out there every three days and performs. Every three days. Brutal. No human except him can bare that pressure in every game and do it."

Probably much to Guardiola's frustration, Messi is expected to sign a new contract at the Camp Nou in the near future.

Nevertheless, the Man City boss will still make sure he never misses an opportunity to catch his old protégé in action.

FC Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves - Copa Del Rey Final

"I am a basketball fan and I used to get up at 4am even if I had training to watch Michael Jordan because I felt I couldn’t miss seeing everything he did before he was done," Guardiola continued.

"Now it’s the same. We can’t miss [Messi’s] games because he’s just so good. We are so fortunate to watch him. And every year you think he’s getting better.

"Tito [Vilanova] had a great phrase once, he said [Messi] is like a student that comes to class and the teacher explains the lesson, but he gets bored because he knows everything already."

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