Ernesto Valverde explains what it was like to coach Lionel Messi at Barcelona

Ernesto Valverde’s time at Barcelona ended in ugly fashion when he was sacked in January after a 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana.

People remember the Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool, but we shouldn’t forget what Barca achieved during Valverde’s two-and-a-half year reign.

The Catalan giants won four trophies, including the La Liga title in each of Valverde’s two full seasons, and Lionel Messi shone under the Spanish manager.

In Valverde’s two full campaigns at the Nou Camp, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner scored a ridiculous 96 goals in 104 appearances.

Valverde was replaced as Barca boss by Quique Setien and he’s now opened up about what it was like to manage the icon that is Messi on a day-to-day basis.

Valverde on managing Messi

There have been plenty of rumours over the years in relation to Messi’s influence at Barcelona, with bold suggestions that he has the final say on transfer and managerial decisions.

However, speaking at a conference with the Basque Football Federation and Committee of Coaches, Valverde heaped praise onto Leo Messi‘s personality.

In fact, the only somewhat negative point he made with regards to managing the Argentinian revolved around him doing things in training that he’d never even seen himself.

“Messi can’t be compared with anyone,” said Valverde, via Goal. “It’s very difficult to tell him if ‘you’ve seen this or another player’ when he does things in training that you haven’t seen.

“Many times, from the touchline, you’re always thinking what can be the best option and, ultimately, he sees it much better than you from on the pitch.”

Valverde: Why it’s easy to coach Messi

The 56-year-old coach continued: “Messi is a very easy player to coach because he also has a great impulse with respect to the team.

“He has a great ambition to win, he always feels such an obligation to the game as for the club. He transmits that to the group and it forces everyone to be at a higher level.

Valverde, who was regularly criticised for Barca’s style of play under him, added: “Seeing him play is impressive from afar… but even more so from up close.”

So, from Valverde’s comments it seems as though 32-year-old Messi is a top professional, he’s desperate to succeed and his desire to win forces the rest of the Barca squad to step up.

It’s totally understandable that the Spaniard found it tough to find areas of Messi’s game to improve – the little genius is one of the most complete players football has ever seen.

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