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En­rique grate­ful to ‘ex­tra ter­res­trial’ Messi after King’s Cup vic­tory

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MADRID coach, which ended with a 3-1 win over Alaves to win the King’s Cup on Satur­day.

Messi scored the open­ing goal of Barca’s third suc­ces­sive Cup tri­umph un­der Luis En­rique and played a cru­cial role in the strikes from Ney­mar and Paco Al­cacer which fin­ished off the Basque min­nows.

Messi be­came the all-time top scorer in La Liga in his first cam­paign un­der Luis En­rique, which ended with the club’s sec­ond tre­ble, and fin­ished as the top scorer in Europe’s top five leagues with 37 goals this sea­son.

The pair’s re­la­tion­ship ap­peared to be strained in the mid­dle of that first sea­son fol­low­ing a train­ing ground bust up, which resur­faced when Messi was left out of the start­ing line-up in a 1-0 de­feat to Real So­ciedad.

But there was noth­ing but plau­dits for the player in Luis En­rique’s fi­nal news con­fer­ence.

“Messi is an ex­tra ter­res­trial in ev­ery sense and I’m very for­tu­nate that I was able to en­joy the best, or one of the best, ver­sions of him,” Luis En­rique said of Messi, who col­lected his 30th tro­phy with Barcelona a month be­fore his 30th birth­day.

“With­out a doubt he’s the num­ber one and to be that you have to con­trol ev­ery as­pect and be very strong phys­i­cally. He takes per­fect care of him­self, and there’s still a lot more to come from Messi.”

Luis En­rique is Barca’s third most dec­o­rated coach of all time with nine tro­phies be­hind Jo­han Cruyff (11) and Pep Guardi­ola (14), who also ended his time in charge by lift­ing the King’s Cup at the Vi­cente Calderon.

Luis En­rique said he had no re­grets about an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion to leave the club back in March.

“I’m happy about the de­ci­sion I made a few months ago, it has worked out per­fectly for me and the team,” he added.

“This job has end­less de­mands and after a while it takes its toll on you. But I don’t feel sad, es­pe­cially when I see we won nine out of 13 tro­phies.” Reuters

REUTERS PIC

Barcelona play­ers and of­fi­cials cel­e­brate after win­ning the King’s Cup on Satur­day.

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