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Luis Enrique claims Lionel Messi would be influential even as a centre back

Anuj Gowda
893   //    13 Jan 2016, 13:04 IST
Enrique won the FIFA Manager of the Year for his work in his first season as Barcelona manager 

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has hailed Lionel Messi’s triumph in the 2015 Ballon d’Or in the FIFA gala in Zurich last Monday and has marvelled at Messi’s influence on his all-conquering Barcelona side. He went as far as claiming the Argentine magician would be as influential as he has been for the team even if he played at the centre back position.

Messi won a record fifth Ballon d’Or crown for his magical performances over the course of the year 2015 which saw the Catalans win an unprecedented treble for the second time in the club’s history. He was voted for the honour ahead of Real Madrid forward and last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo and teammate Neymar by a landslide margin.

During Messi’s previous Ballon d’Or winning campaigns of 2011 and 2012, he was imperious as he was employed in a false nine position in the team. However, the little maestro was equally devastating if not better during the 2015 campaign where he was employed if a wider role on the right flank. 

Enrique, who won the FIFA Manager of the Year award himself for his exploits with the club, was all praise for the Barca talisman and his versatility and contribution to the side.  

"Whatever position he plays, he'll add to the team, as a goalscorer and providing assists. If you played him as a midfielder, a centre-back, he'd still be decisive.”

"I'm very happy. He's being recognised as the greatest player of all time and we're so lucky to have players like Neymar in these ceremonies as well," he said on Tuesday.

"I think there are other players in my squad who deserve to be up there so I'm glad these players have such a strong future ahead of them.”

Grateful to those who voted for me: Enrique

FIFA’s 2015 Manager of the Year was not among the dignitaries in the gala in Zurich on Monday to collect the award as he did not attend the ceremony. However, he termed the recognition an ‘honour’ and thanked the people who voted for him.    

"It's an honour which has come as a reward for everything the players and staff did last year. I'm very grateful to those who voted," he said.

But the former Celta Vigo manager was quick to shift the attention and praise towards his players who destroyed teams in Spain as well as all over Europe at will as they bagged five out of the available six trophies in a stupendous campaign.

"I think there were lots of players to help us have that incredible year and they also deserve these prizes but not everyone can win. It's down to the voters.

"It's all about winning titles as a club and the players know this is more important than any individual accolades.

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