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“He feels up for the challenge” – Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman hails Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi
ANALYST
Modified 07 Jan 2021, 23:56 IST
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Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman believes Lionel Messi is nearing his best form for the Catalans. The Dutchman has also revealed the Argentinean has been a pleasure to work with since he arrived at the Camp Nou.

Koeman took charge of Barcelona earlier in the summer after the Blaugrana parted ways with Quique Setien. However, the Dutchman has struggled to get the La Liga giants firing on all cylinders regularly. Koeman has not been helped by an underwhelming summer transfer window and the doubts concerning Lionel Messi’s future either.

Speaking after Barcelona’s 3-2 victory against Athletic Bilbao, the Dutchman was full of praise for his skipper. Lionel Messi scored a brace on the night as the Catalans moved up to third in the La Liga table, and Koeman was delighted with the Argentinean’s performance.

“Since the first day that I arrived at the club, I think Lionel Messi has given everything. I haven’t been surprised by his quality because he's obviously been showing how good he is for years. It's possibly true that he's been less effective than normal which is why there could have been doubts but he's doing a lot better now, he feels comfortable at the moment and he feels up for the challenge. That's how I feel. But I think Messi is the one who can answer that best” said Koeman

Barcelona went behind early against Athletic Bilbao when Inaki Williams gave the home side the lead in the third minute. However, Pedri drew the visitors level 11 minutes later.

Lionel Messi found the back of the net on either side of the break to ensure the Catalans came away with three points. Athletic Bilbao reduced the deficit through Iker Munian in the final minutes of the game, but it was too late.

Lionel Messi involved in ten goals in his last ten games for Barcelona

Ronald Koeman
Ronald Koeman

Lionel Messi has 12 goals from 20 games this season and has been involved in ten goals in his last ten games for Barcelona, which includes eight goals and two assists. The Catalans will now be hoping their talismanic skipper can continue his good form because they are already playing catch up in the title race.

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Barcelona moved to within seven points of Atletico Madrid after the win, though the Rojiblancos have played two games less. But with Lionel Messi getting closer to his best, it is unwise to write off the Catalans just yet.

Published 07 Jan 2021, 23:56 IST
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