5 players Lionel Messi took under his wing at Barcelona

Lionel Messi and Neymar
Lionel Messi and Neymar
Modified 29 Mar 2021
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Lionel Messi's Barcelona career has been one for the history books, with the Argentine attacker cementing his status as one of the all time greats at the Camp Nou. Having joined the club as a teenager, he rose through the ranks rapidly and became the best player under the tutelage of Frank Rijkaard and later Pep Guardiola.

In his formative days, though, Lionel Messi needed a bit of guidance from the senior players at the club to realize his true potential. At the time, Ronaldinho was the star attraction at Barcelona and dazzled fans across the world with his brilliance on the ball.

The Brazilian great kickstarted Barcelona's dominance in the modern era and also played a pivotal role in Lionel Messi's emergence, as he took him under his wing and taught him the craft.

Lionel Messi nurturing the current generation of La Masia wonderkids

Similarly, in the years that have gone by, Lionel Messi has helped shape the careers of a handful of footballers at the Camp Nou, proving that the apprentice has finally become the master at Barcelona.

On that note, here are five players the current Barcelona skipper took under his wing in the past decade.

#5 Pedri

Real Valladolid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
Real Valladolid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander

18-year-old Pedri's performances have been one of the highlights of Barcelona's season, with the energetic midfielder taking the Camp Nou by storm with his talent. Having joined the Catalan giants from Las Palmas for a meager fee, Pedri quickly made a name for himself with the Blaugrana and is a vital cog of Ronald Koeman's side.

A key feature of Pedri's gameplay is his intelligence and spatial awareness, as the teenager continues to strike up a telepathic understanding with Lionel Messi. The Spaniard heaped praise on the Barcelona skipper earlier this season and played down comparisons with Andres Iniesta, with several media outlets across the world drawing parallels between the playing styles of the two players.

"The truth is that something must have stuck. I think I have seen all the videos of (Iniesta) on YouTube. I never missed a game of his, so I guess some of it wears off."
“Maybe that is something I learned from Andrés, but the truth is that these are things that just happen on the field. If suddenly you hear Leo, you know you have give him the ball because he will create danger and end up scoring like always.”

Lionel Messi's Barcelona future might be uncertain, but that hasn't stopped him from nurturing the next generation of talents at the Camp Nou.

#4 Ansu Fati

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander
FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga Santander

Another Spanish teenager who has flourished at Barcelona in the past 12 months, Ansu Fati's rise to stardom in the 2019-20 season was rather incredible. The gifted winger broke several long-standing records that belonged to Lionel Messi and quickly became one of the first names on the teamsheet, as he made his debut aged 16 and showed glimpses of his outrageous potential.

Fati is currently sidelined with a long-term injury, but he is a vital cog in Barcelona's future and has been hailed as the heir to Lionel Messi's throne. The Argentine acknowledged Fati's talent and offered a piece of advice to the Catalan giants, as he warned his current club against putting too much pressure on the youngster.

"I really like him and I try to help and support him. He's an amazing player and he's got what it takes to succeed. But if I look at it through my eyes, I'd like them to bring him on gradually, like they did with me when I started, taking things nice and easy and without putting pressure on him."
"You have to remember that he's only 16. I hope he keeps on enjoying it and that all the fuss around him doesn't have a negative impact on him because he has the quality to become one of the best."

Fati admitted several times since his debut that he has learned a lot from Lionel Messi, with the pair combining to devastating effect before his injury earlier this season. The youngster will hope that Messi extends his contract and continues to help him develop as a player, much like Ronaldinho did from him as a teenager.

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Published 29 Mar 2021, 15:30 IST
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