Lionel Messi has described how Pep Guardiola ‘harmed’ football with his philosophy – but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner wasn’t criticising his former manager, quite the opposite.
Messi spent four glorious seasons working under Guardiola at Barcelona (opens in new tab), during which time he won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues – and he’s categorically hailed the Catalan super-tactician as his best-ever boss.
The PSG (opens in new tab) star was being speaking to Movistar Plus as he prepares to captain Argentina (opens in new tab) at one last World Cup (opens in new tab) – where he’ll be hoping to get his hands on the trophy at the fifth time of asking. He said (opens in new tab) (quotes via Manchester Evening News):
“Pep is the best coach I’ve ever had. Everything he planned always ending up happening.”
Guardiola and Messi together at Barcelona in 2010 (Image credit: Visual China Group via Getty Images)
But while Guardiola’s ways worked wonders for that iconic Barca team, his ‘Juego de Posicion’ approach arguably had a negative effect on the wider game as countless coaches tried (and failed) to imitate it. Messi continued:
“He is special in the way he sees things, prepares for matches and communicates. Guardiola did a lot of harm to football too because it seemed too easy, so simple that everyone wanted to copy it.
“Later I found many ‘Guardiolas’ out there and you realise what we did, what that was.”
Guardiola left Barca at the end of the 2011/12 campaign, after which Messi played under Tito Vilanova, Gerardo Martino, Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde, Quique Setien and Ronald Koemen before joining PSG last year.