Luis Enrique hails ‘total footballer’ Lionel Messi

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The Argentine star’s performances for the Catalan club underline his progress as a unique footballer, head coach Luis Enrique has said

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has hailed the evolution of Lionel Messi as a process that has resulted in the “total footballer”.

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The 29-year-old has scored 28 times in all competitions this season and has provided 14 goals in his last 12 appearances.

Luis Enrique believes the Argentina international’s development in recent seasons has seen him become more of a goalscoring playmaker than a central attacker, a flexibility that underlines the unique ability he possesses.

“Messi’s footballing evolution is beyond a doubt,” he said on Wednesday. “We’ve seen years of him as a goalscorer and his evolution is that of a total footballer. 

“He has the ability of doing anything in attack and defence. He’s the prototype of a player capable of playing with one or two touches, without the ball, with that technical quality. He’s a unique player.”

Messi and Barca have thrived during Luis Enrique’s spell in charge, with the Catalans having won back-to-back domestic doubles as well as the 2015 Champions League.

HD Lionel Messi Barcelona

The future of the head coach remains the subject of speculation, however, given his contract will expire at the end of the season.

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Ivan Rakitic was the latest player to encourage Luis Enrique to extend his stay at Camp Nou but the former Spain international does not believe the uncertainty over his position is having any sort of impact on the squad.

“I don’t have anything to say about that. I’m relaxed,” he replied when asked about Rakitic’s remarks.

“I don’t normally speak about this but I still see the same desire to be a team that wants to keep making history. I even see it reinforced every season.”

Barca take on Real Sociedad in the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-final at Camp Nou on Thursday.

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