Ludovic Giuly reveals 16-year-old 'killed' Barcelona stars in training

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It's time to state the obvious, Lionel Messi is a pretty good footballer.

You probably could have guessed that of Barcelona's seven goals against Celtic on Tuesday, Messi scored three of them - to take his career tally past 460 across all competitions - and assisted two more to condemn Brendan Rodgers' side to an embarrassing defeat.

And sometimes it is easy to forget that the Argentine hero is still just 29-years-old when you consider he made his debut as a fresh-faced 17-year-old back in 2004.

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He became the second-youngest player to ever represent Barcelona when he replaced Deco for Frank Rijkaard's side in a Catalan derby against Espanyol.

But Ronaldinho, Xavi and Carlos Puyol were already familiar with Messi's talents after watching him and being similarly embarrassed by the teenager in training.

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Ex-French international Ludovic Giuly, who played for the Catalan giants between 2004-07, has recalled one of the first training sessions Messi was integrated into the first team and remembers the harrowing experience very clearly.

As quoted by Spanish publication Sport, Giuly explained: "Messi was only 16, but he destroyed us all in a training session.

"They were kicking him all over the place to avoid being ridiculed by this kid, but he didn't say anything. He just got up and kept on playing."

Given Puyol's usual 'take no prisoner' approach to defending, it's hard to imagine how he would have reacted to this small youngster running rings round him and his senior teammates.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Final

But it shows Messi learned how to pick himself up from every bad or late challenge at an early age - not that he's had much choice when that is often the only way his opponents have been able to stop him.

"Every play he made was dangerous. It was incredible. He would dribble past four players and score a goal," Giuly added.

"Even the team's starting centre-backs were nervous. They would go in hard on him, but he took it in. He was an alien. He killed us all."

It's nice to know that 12 years on, Messi is still humiliating experienced centre-backs on a regular basis, with Kolo Toure the latest powerless victim to suffer at the feet of the Argentine magician.

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