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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Barcelona's Messi to be enjoyed, says coach Luis Enrique

AFP , Monday 16 Feb 2015
Lionel Messi
Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, celebrates scoring the opening goal during a Copa del Rey Quarterfinal soccer match between FC Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain (Photo: AP)
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Barcelona boss Luis Enrique said he is savouring the chance to watch Lionel Messi after the Argentine notched his fifth hat-trick of the season in a 5-0 romp over Levante on Sunday.

Messi was at the heart of the action as he teed up Neymar for the opener and then struck three times either side of halftime to take his tally for the season to 37 on his 300th La Liga appearance.

Neymar was then replaced by Luis Suarez midway through the second-half and he also made his presence felt with a stunning overhead kick to round off the scoring.

Enrique had made eight changes to the side that had beaten Villarreal in the Copa del Rey in midweek, but dismissed suggestions he could have also taken the chance to withdraw Messi after he had completed his hat-trick.

"The idea is to enjoy. That is what we are doing, enjoying him as much as possible," said Enrique.

The four-time World Player of the Year has been unstoppable in 2015 with 14 goals and 10 assists in 11 appearances.

That upturn in fortunes has coincided with Messi moving to a slightly wider position to allow Suarez to play as a central striker and Enrique lauded his ability to create as well finish.

"Against teams that play deep and with a lot of players in the middle of the field we need to have width and move the ball quickly to crate danger.

"It is key for us that Leo participates a lot, that he can have many touches to be able to create two or three on ones, makes passes and create space.

"When there are a lot of people in the middle it is harder for him to combine, so he has freedom to go where he can find space."

Enrique received criticism earlier in the season for his rotation policy, but he is beginning to look justified as Barca enter a decisive part of the campaign on the back of an 11-game winning run, while Madrid have faltered in recent weeks.

"That was an objective we had at the start of the season to have a big squad with so much quality," he said.

"Having so many quality players allows you to rotate. I would say that we have almost unlimited resources."

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