Gerard Pique reveals what makes Barcelona star Lionel Messi an "alien"

David Cooper 22/03/2018
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Barcelona stars Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi

Gerard Pique has heaped praise on Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect.

The Argentine genius is enjoying another otherworldly season as the Blaugrana charge towards the La Liga title with a Copa del Rey final and a Champions League quarter-final still to come.

Messi is leading Spain’s Pichichi race with 25 goals this season and has laid on a further 12 assists.

However, writing in his exclusive column for the Player’s Tribune, Pique explained that is what Messi does without the ball that makes him a special talent.

“People often ask me what it has been like playing with Messi for so many years. If I had to explain it in one sentence: He is an alien,” the 31-year-old defender explained.

“He is not from this planet. He’s the only player that I can recall seeing play for the first time, way back when we were 13 years old, and saying to myself, ‘Oh, this kid comes from somewhere else. This is not human’.

“He is an assassin. He’s the greatest I’ve ever seen. But, you see, it’s not about the way he attacks. “People ask me, ‘What’s the most incredible thing I’ve seen Leo do on the pitch?’ And they expect me to tell them about him dribbling three defenders. And trust me, I have plenty of those stories.

“But for me, the reason that I know he’s from another planet is because of what happens when he doesn’t have the ball.

“Perhaps you can’t see it on TV, but I can see it on the pitch. You have to see his face when he’s sprinting to win the ball back from a defender.

“He has a look in his eyes that I haven’t ever seen in another footballer. It is what makes him so great. He is not interested in the spectacle. He rarely even does stepovers. He’s cut from a different cloth.

“His greatness is in his obsession with winning the ball.

“Maybe that doesn’t make for a great headline. But when I think about Messi’s true magic, it’s not in something you can find on YouTube. It’s about a subtle expression in his eyes. His greatness would take me another 5,000 words to explain. Perhaps in another article!”

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Andres Iniesta says Real Madrid a more likely destination for Neymar than Barcelona

David Cooper 22/03/2018
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Neymar and Andres Iniesta during their time together at Barcelona

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta believes Neymar signing for Real Madrid is a more likely scenario than the Paris Saint-Germain forward rejoining Barcelona.

The Brazil international is being perpetually linked with a move away from the Parisians despite only completing a world-record switch to the Ligue 1 giants last summer.

A transfer back to Spain has been mooted with Madrid and bitter rivals Barca the two clubs heading the queue for his signature.

Los Blancos have already begun their swooning process with boss Zinedine Zidane insisting the 26-year-old would be a natural fit alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

Madrid president Florentino Perez is also a long-time admirer but according to reports in the Catalan media, Neymar has sounded out a potential return to the Camp Nou with his former teammates.

Asked about the situation Iniesta told the El Larguero radio show (h/t ESPN): “It is not that it surprises me or not. I am indifferent. I would not take that as a lack of respect, it is not something I am thinking about.

“I would just think that Madrid are signing one of the best players in the world. But we still have a squad and players that are better than the others.

“Usually when you leave somewhere, it is difficult to return. I would be more surprised if he came back [than to see him at Madrid]. But we will see what happens in future.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo fan Usain Bolt compares himself to Lionel Messi

David Cooper 22/03/2018
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It’s no secret that Usain Bolt is a Cristiano Ronaldo fan but it may come to a surprise to some that he believes he has more in common with Lionel Messi as far as his attributes on the football pitch.

“Messi is very talented,” he told Omnisport at Wednesday’s Match of Friendship, speaking courtesy of Hublot.

“From what I’ve learned and listened to over the years, Cristiano had to work to get where he is. I was born with speed and had a lot of talent [like Messi].”

The legendary Olympian has repeatedly voiced his desire to one day play for Manchester United and this week begins training with Borussia Dortmund.

“I don’t know what to expect [at Dortmund],” he added.

“I’m going to try my best, as always. I’m a very determined person when I want something so I’m going to go there and do my best. For me, my best is always good enough.

“I would love to play for the team [Manchester United], to give it some thought and see where it goes. After the trials I then have a base to tell him [Jose Mourinho] I can do this, I can do that.”

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