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Pep Guardiola: Short bursts of effort help Barca's Lionel Messi shine

Ex-Barca coach says Argentine is able to perform like when he was 20 due to game management

Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said that Lionel Messi's "short bursts of effort" in games help the veteran superstar reproduce displays of his younger days.

Guardiola's remarks of his former player were evident in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Real Valladolid in La Liga yesterday morning (Singapore time).

In a sensational outing with the Catalan side, Messi, 32, provided the pass for Arturo Vidal's 29th-minute goal, before despatching a free-kick five minutes later.

The Argentine added another goal in the 75th minute with a slick swivel, gentle touch and drilled finish, before slipping in Luis Suarez for Barca's fifth just two minutes later.

Earlier, Kiko had equalised for Valladolid after Clement Lenglet had given Barca a second-minute lead.

"Stars need to run like anyone else, if not the team can't cope, you need to convince them to run," Manchester City manager Guardiola told Catalunya Radio.

"Sometimes, you say to them, 'I won't make you run 40 metres like the 20-year-old athlete in the team, but give me a reason not to'. If someone doesn't run, but scores three goals every game I can buy that, but nobody scores three goals a game, only Messi comes close.

"Right now, you need to ask Messi to make short bursts of effort. He can't run for the sake of running, no way.

"If Leo ran like he did in his first season with me, he'd be injured every three months. Managing stars of 30 and above is the hardest thing for a coach."

Barcelona began the season in shaky form with Messi sidelined through injury but, since their captain started for the first time, on Sept 24, they have won their seven matches in all competitions.

Before that, they managed just two wins in six games, suffering defeats by Athletic Bilbao and Granada.

"Every time he gets the ball, something happens, good for us and bad for them," Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said when asked about Messi's display.

"He has this talent that nobody else has. It's not just that he makes one move and unbalances them, but he sees what nobody else sees.

"I'm convinced that what he sees, you can't even see from the stands. And now he looks fresher. We're happy because he's doing well and because we're enjoying how he plays."

Vidal also paid compliments to his captain, saying that he's "from another planet".

"It makes a difference with Leo giving all his quality. When he's like this, the team feel it," Vidal told Movistar Plus.

"We see him every day, but he surprises us every day. Leo is from another planet. I have no words to talk about Leo. You have to take advantage of it and make the most of him."


Valladolid director David Espinar described Messi as an illness that cannot be cured.

"Messi is a smallpox, but there is no vaccine," Espinar was quoted as saying by Marca.

Atletico Madrid could have done with a drop of Messi's attacking inspiration as they were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Alaves.

Striker Alvaro Morata came off the bench to score his third goal in as many games, but Lucas Perez hit a stunning late equaliser at the Mendizorrotza Stadium.