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Stats: Lionel Messi has been at his creative best under Luis Enrique

UEFA Champions League
Messi’s numbers have soared under Enrique’s tutelage
ANALYST
Modified 31 Jan 2017
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Lionel Messi has been hailed as a creative genius ever since he started grabbing footballing headlines with his impressive performances for the Barcelona junior teams.

Yet, it seems, none of his La Masia coaches, nor his former managers that include the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Tito Vilanova, and Pep Guardiola, seem to bring the best of his creative instincts out, quite like his current manager Luis Enrique does.

While he does continue scoring goals for fun, he has often been spotted dropping deeper in midfield to help and create opportunities for his teammates.

Luis Enrique – the catalyst behind Messi’s creativity

Since Luis Enrique took control of affairs at the club, Messi has clocked his best average in terms of assists. The Argentine has set up a goal every 2 games, or to be precise, he has set up a goal every 169 minutes, which is the best numbers he has clocked ever since he started playing for the Catalan giants.

While Messi averaged an assist every 189 minutes under Pep Guardiola, he took an average of 215 minutes to set up a goal under Tito Vilanova and given that he was still in the early stages of his career under Frank Rijkaard, he averaged an assist every 235 minutes.

Minutes per assist under different Barcelona managers
ManagerMinutes per Assist
Frank Rijkaard 270
Pep Guardiola 189
Tito Vilanova215
Tito Martina233
Luis Enrique169

The statistics only further the credentials of Messi as one of the best footballers to have ever graced the pitch. Not only does he score a bagful of goals every year without fail, he also creates chances at a similar rate for his teammates as well.

What is interesting is that the 29-year-old actually created a higher number of chances per game under Tito Martina, the manager under whom he had a rather dismal assist record. In the only season he played under the Argentine, he created a goal scoring opportunity every 39 minutes. This is lower than any other manager he has played under.

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Also read: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are both beasts says Juventus star Gonzalo Higuain

In more than a way, it is also an indication of the quality prevalent around Messi in recent years in the form of Neymar and Luis Suarez, since these players have a higher conversion rate compared to their predecessors. 

SeasonKey Passes 

Manager

2009-101.9Pep Guardiola
2010-111.9Pep Guardiola
2011-122.7Pep Guardiola
2012-131.45Tito Vilanova
2013-142.35Tito Martina 
2014-152.65Luis Enrique
2015-161.85Luis Enrique
2016-172.25Luis Enrique

However, it must be noted that his managers too have had a role to play in his development as a creator. At the start of his career under Rijkaard, he was often deployed as a finisher. However, with the passage of time and his quality becoming apparent, he was handed the number 10 role by Pep Guardiola. Messi continues to terrorise defences in this role to the day.

Barcelona playing the catch-up game with Real Madrid and desperately need Messi magic

Barcelona have endured a rather indifferent season thus far. The side were dealt a big blow in their pursuit of the La Liga title on Sunday when they drew away from home against 13th placed Real Betis. The misery of their fans was further increased when Real Madrid went on to win their game at home against Real Sociedad to increase their lead over the Catalans to 4 points, having played a game less. 

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Barcelona will be keen to reverse the current situation and give their fans something to cheer about and for them to do so, MSN will have to start firing on all cylinders.

Statistics lend credentials to Messi being the best ever

There is no doubt that Leo Messi is one of the finest to have graced the game. However, what sets him apart from others, in our opinion, is how he adds to his side’s attacking firepower apart from just scoring goals.

He can thread the eye of a needle and can spot a run very few players who have played the game can.

Published 31 Jan 2017, 09:30 IST
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