La Liga 2016/17: Nani hails 'special' Lionel Messi ahead of tie against Barcelona
Ahead of Valencia’s clash against reigning league champions Barcelona at the Mestalla, summer signing and former European champion Nani talked up Messi as ‘special’ player and only a few players can think of reaching his level.
Lionel Messi returned to fitness after a groin strain, and has since scored 4 goals in 2 games including a hat-trick against his former boss, Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Nani has come up against the Argentine superstar on multiple occasions during his career at Manchester United in two Champions League finals and at international level with Portugal.
“Messi is a special player and few compare”, said the Portuguese who also went on to praise his Portuguese captain Ronaldo adding, “we know we have Cristiano, contesting all year for the Golden Ball with Messi. But it’s not until the end that we know who is the best in the world.”
Since the arrival of new boss Cesare Prandelli following the axing of Pako Ayestaran, Valencia have recorded three wins out of their last four games and currently sit on 14th place in the La Liga. With Barcelona up next at the Mestalla, Prandelli will need to conjure up a tactical masterclass to tackle the front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
In scintillating form, the Catalans brushed aside a hapless Manchester City and prior to that cruised to victory over Deportivo La Coruna in the league are looking to keep up the pace at the top of the league with rivals Real and Atletico Madrid.
Currently two points off the top of the standings, Luis Enrique is glad to welcome back his captain and talisman Messi, who has been in stunning form since his return from injury.
Valencia, who beat Barcelona last season at the Nou Camp, will be looking to continue their new found form under their new Italian manager and pick up valuable points off a world class team.
Nani, aged 29, made the moved to the Mestalla after a year in Turkey with Fenerbahce, joining Valencia to reignite his club career after a few turbulent years at Manchester United and the Turkish giants. After a very successful European Championship in the summer, Nani will be keen to impress the Mestalla and find a new place to call home, the City of Joy, Valencia.
Cesare Prandelli’s target is to bring the club back into contention for Europa League places and can continue his good work with a huge win over Barcelona in front of a home crowd.