Messi feels more at home with ball players like Xavi by his side

On September 24, Lionel Messi left the pitch at La Rosaleda with something bugging him. Barcelona had just finished their fifth match of the la Liga season and Luis Enrique had once again left Xavi, Messi's best friend on the pitch, out his starting XI. 

Javier Miguel

That day, the Asturian boss opted for Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta. It was a rough match; with little space. The state of the pitch didn't help much either. 

Barça did not hit the target once, though, and the Argentine crack was particularly anxious that he'd seen so little of the ball. Messi ended the game disappointed and frustrated - for the first time in his career he was unable to create room or have one dangerous moment.

It was a game to forget individually, but also for the collective. In fact, the game against Malaga disrupted Barcelona's winning rhythm under Luis Enrique. They'd won all their previous games.

Messi decided the moment had come to speak to his new manager about his discomfort at not having a player like Xavi in the side. He considers the 34-year-old the player that knows him best; the player that he connects with better than any other on the pitch.

Luis Enrique took note of Messi's view, although he didn't make any promises. However, Xavi did play the next four league matches after the draw with Malaga, offering more versatility to Barça's play and combining well with Messi, who was back somewhere near his best.

In fact, the presence of Xavi saw Messi score four goals in four games.

It is clear that Luis Enrique, in his search for balance and unpredictablity, has been trying several combinations in the middle of the pitch. Regardless of that, though, it can't be doubted that Messi is much more comfortable with ball players sharing the field with him - or at least the presence of more than one.

The team improves notably when Xavi's been on the pitch, whether as a starter of off the bench. Messi knows this, as do Neymar, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Dani Alves...


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