Lionel Messi is loving life under Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona and has praised the head coach’s man-management skills.
Former Athletic Bilbao boss Valverde took over from Luis Enrique for the 2017-18 campaign and negotiated a turbulent start that included the shock sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and a Supercopa de Espana thrashing at the hands of bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Inspired by Messi’s relentless on-field brilliance, Barca shook off those setbacks and romped to a comfortable LaLiga triumph, also collecting the Copa del Rey thanks to a 5-0 demolition of Sevilla.
“With Valverde I feel spectacular because of the way he is,” Messi told Sport.
“Because of the way he talks with the players. He is such a good person, sincere.”
Messi ranks Luis Enrique alongside mentor Pep Guardiola among his former Barcelona bosses – somewhat surprisingly given rumours of the Argentina superstar being unhappy midway through the 2014-15 campaign that ultimately ended in treble glory.
“I had great experiences with everyone,” he said. “I am very grateful to [Frank] Rijkaard, who was the one who gave me the opportunity.
“He trusted me, he gave me my debut and he dealt with me me calmly and always gave me this calm.
“Guardiola is one of the best, without a doubt. Luis Enrique is there at the same level.”
As far as entering the dugout himself when his celebrated playing days come to an end, Messi does not see the attraction.
However, the recent successes of a noted rival means he will never say never.
“Today I do not see myself as a coach [but] you never know what will happen,” he added.
“I heard [Zinedine] Zidane say that he was never going to be a coach and then he ended up biting and he was there.
“I do not see myself there but I do not know what will happen.”