Lionel Messi says he has ‘no doubts’ that Pep Guardiola is the best coach in the world, and he says he wished he appreciated his time playing for him more.
Messi and Guardiola had four trophy-laden years together at Barcelona before Guardiola quit citing exhaustion.
Last week, Messi said Guardiola’s impact on football has been so great that it has actually done a lot of ‘harm’ to the game due to the amount of people now trying to replicate his methods.
He, though, has now put a much more positive gloss on those comments, saying the Man City boss was so good that he and his Barca teammates did not even realise what a special time it was.
“The Guardiola era was an extraordinary period,” Messi said. “Guardiola comes in, with what he taught us and made us grow as a team. He found a generation of players that was unique. It was impressive.”
Guardiola’s trophy haul at Barcelona included three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues, while Messi himself won the Ballon d’Or four times in a row between 2009 and 2012.
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“With Guardiola, we were going to play anywhere and we knew we were going to win, whoever the team was. We knew what to do, how to do it, we knew everything. We had painful defeats, but we were always confident.
“With Guardiola, we made things so easy, and it was so natural that we didn’t realise what we were doing. As time goes by, you realise it was unique what we achieved.
“Guardiola is the best coach, I have no doubt. He is special. He prepared the games like nobody else. He knew everything. I regret not having enjoyed the Guardiola era more, not having enjoyed it more with him.
“I always liked having the ball at my feet. I loved having Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets next to me. It was all so much easier.”