Ernesto Valverde praises competitiveness of star man Lionel Messi

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Lionel Messi

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has praised the competitiveness of star man Lionel Messi.

The Argentine is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, having won five Ballon d’Or and clinched a record 32 titles with the La Liga giants.

The 31-year-old, who is Barca’s all-time leading scorer with 398 strikes, is enjoying another stunning campaign, with 21 goals and 10 assists to his name in all competitions.

And Valverde believes it’s the competitive spirit of Messi that sets him apart from other elite players in the game.

“What I’d most highlight about Leo Messi is his huge sense of responsibility for the team,” he told Barca TV. “It shows in every game in every competition.

“What he does is not only difficult, but he does it again and again … That takes enormous mental strength.

“I have never known anyone with such an amazing competitive spirit.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo 'not obsessed' by individual trophies

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted he is not obsessed with individual awards after enjoying another stunning year in 2018.

The 33-year-old missed out on FIFA and UEFA’s player of the year trophies as former Real Madrid teammate Luka Modric swept all before him.

“I’m not obsessed by individual prizes,” Ronaldo told Portuguese sports daily Record.

“The most important thing is to win collective trophies and help the team. The rest comes naturally.”

Ronaldo added: “I don’t think all the time of beating records. I work above all to help the club and be at my best level.

“The technical, tactical and physical level of all teams is better today,” he said. “It’s increasingly tough to win so I have to keep working hard to stay on top.”

The Portugal captain scored 49 goals in 53 matches for both club and country in 2018, and currently sits top of the Serie A goalscoring charts this season with 14 strikes.

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Gerard Pique plans to retire in 2020 to focus on becoming Barcelona president

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Gerard Pique wants to become president of Barcelona when he retires from club football, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The defender, who turns 32 in February, is willing to retire in 2020 in order to push for the role in 2021.

Pique was with the Camp Nou side from 1997-04 as a youth player before joining Manchester United for four seasons. He returned to his home club in 2008 and has been a central part of Barcelona’s defence since.

The Spaniard has won three Champions Leagues as well as a remarkable seven La Liga titles, making him one of the most decorated Barcelona players of all time.

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