Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti has revealed that, when it comes to training alongside Lionel Messi, the Argentine “treats his teammates like cones.”
Umtiti only arrived at the Nou Camp last summer after impressing with previous club Lyon and for France at Euro 2016.
But he appears to be settled in well at Barcelona, speaking with knowing admiration for Messi during an interview with Sport.
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Despite his clear affection for the South American star, however, it would appear that Umtiti often finds the Barca forward a little too quick for his liking in training.
"He has so much ease on the ball. His talent is innate although he works a lot. In training he does things that are out for the normal. Sometimes he dribbles past everyone as if we were nothing more than cones, including me," Umtiti said.
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Despite the jokey nature of the Frenchman’s comments, Barcelona’s new signing will be only too aware that the club faces an important couple of weeks in La Liga.
Having already secured top spot in their Champions League group ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, the Catalans must redouble their efforts in the league.
Due to face Real Madrid in the first of this season’s El Clasico encounters this weekend, Luis Enrique’s men currently sit six points behind Los Blancos with defeat potentially signalling the end of the team’s title defence before Christmas.
With Zinedine Zidane overseeing a record-breaking run of victories at the helm of Real, the omens certainly do not look good.
Barcelona do not head into the game in great form either, with last Sunday’s 1-1 draw away to Real Sociedad making it five points from a possible nine over their last three league games.
The fact that Saturday’s El Clasico clash is taking place at the Nou Camp will offer little in the way of solace either, given that Real Madrid have tasted victory at the ground in two of their last three visits.
Back in April, Real came from a goal down to win 2-1 in Barcelona on a night that was supposed to be a tribute to the late Johan Cruyff.
With Messi in their ranks, however, there is hope with the Argentine in a rich run of form that has seen him score 19 times in 16 appearance already this term.
He will be desperate to hit the 20-goal mark against their Madrid rivals.
Will Messi get on the scoresheet against Real Madrid? Have your say in the comment box below.