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5 favourite teammates of Lionel Messi

ANALYST
Modified 12 Sep 2020, 21:32 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
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#3 Andres Iniesta

Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta (right)
Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta (right)

Andres Iniesta played alongside Lionel Messi for 14 long years and is undoubtedly the one to have played the most games (489) alongside the Argentinian maestro.

The duo together won 32 trophies at Barcelona, a tally that includes nine La Liga and four Champions League titles among other domestic and continental honours.

Lionel Messi was one of the chief beneficiaries of the brilliance of Andres Iniesta, who like Xavi, had an impeccable understanding with the Argentine in the attacking-third, especially in the opposition penalty box.

Not surprisingly, Messi has often spoken eloquently about the role of Iniesta in his and Barcelona's success over the years as the two players, who do not talk much, shared an excellent camaraderie both on and off the pitch.

"He has more contact with the ball than me; he's the person who starts moves, who gets things going. I know how difficult it is to do what he does. His play is different, it comes from when he was very little, even though he has clearly improved over time and with different coaches. Maybe you could say that both of us have something of the street in the way we play," Lionel Messi says about Iniesta in an extract of the book The Artist: Being Iniesta.

#4 Dani Alves

Dani Alves and Lionel Messi
Dani Alves and Lionel Messi
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Lionel Messi formed a dream triumvirate with Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta at Barcelona and benefitted immensely from arguably Spanish football's greatest midfield duo, but Brazilian Dani Alves has also provided a signficant number of direct assists to the Argentine.

There is good reason for that. Alves and Messi operated on the same side of the field. The marauding right-back often overlapped with Lionel Messi to devastating effect as his teasing inch-perfect crosses unerringly found the Argentine maestro who cut inside to breach the tightest gaps in opposition defences.

No wonder, 26 of Dani Alves' 43 assists for Lionel Messi came in the La Liga alone. Messi enjoyed a great relationship with the Brazilian whom he has often talked highly about.

"We've spent many years together, both on and off the field. Day-to-day, we've got a very strong relationship, which is also of a great help on the field -- it means we understand each other's games very well."

However, Alves, on his part, tore into critics who attributed Lionel Messi's 'decline' behind Barcelona's trophyless 2019-20 season.

"I still think the one untouchable person in football is Leo (Messi) because of what he brings to the game. Even if things don't turn out well, Leo's always fine. But this is a team sport and everyone has his responsibility".
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#1 Luis Suarez

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez (right)
Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez (right)

Luis Suarez, along with Neymar and Lionel Messi, formed one of the most attacking triumvirates in the history of football. Affectionately nicknamed MSN, the trio essentially fed of each other and Barcelona reaped enormous dividends.

Even when MSN broke up after Neymar left Camp Nou to join Paris St. Germain, Suarez has continued his fruitful partnership with Lionel Messi.

It is the Uruguayan striker, and not one of Xavi, Iniesta or Alves, who has provided the most assists (54) to Lionel Messi since the former joined Barcelona in the summer of 2014.

Suarez, operating in a number nine role, and Messi through the centre, provided fireworks galore for Barcelona even after Neymar's exit. The Uruguayan's untiring work-rate and ability in tight spaces have immensely beniffited Lionel Messi. In 2018, Suarez broke Dani Alves' record of most Liga assists to Messi (26).

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The former Liverpool and Ajax man, who is widely tipped to leave Barcelona, shares enormous mutual respect with Lionel Messi, with the latter calling Suarez the best number nine ever.

"It's hard to compare him to anyone I've played with. What I can say is that he's the best No. 9 in the world today, that it's a pleasure to play with him, for what he brings to the team. I get on really well with him off the pitch too. I'm very happy to be sharing all this with him."
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Published 12 Sep 2020, 21:32 IST
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