Want to know how to stop Leo Messi? Just ask Pablo Maffeo

Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action against. AFP

Barcelona's Lionel Messi in action against. AFP

"The man-marking was clear and we had to find the place where to put Messi to move that player [Maffeo] and to get the most out of the situation", Valverde told reporters after the game.

Owners Fenway Sports Group have held meetings with Philippe Coutinho's representatives and have agreed to listen to Barca when the transfer window reopens.

"You have to take advantage of the situation".

Barca have remained in touch with Coutinho since his failed switch and are now confident of signing the midfielder.

The defender spent three years at Barca before departing for Sporting Lisbon in the summer.

"I don't know [if I would celebrate]", he said. "I have a lot of respect for my former team-mates and the fans".

The Barcelona connections extend to the boardroom, and the presence of Txiki Begitistain and Ferran Soriano as Director of Football and Chief Executive respectively would help ensure a smooth transition for Messi to the English Premier League. Other big name players have arrived since Guardiola took his sabbatical from the game in 2012, but not all of them have stayed, and the pressure of managing the club has taken its toll on his successors as much as it did on Guardiola himself, despite all of the success. But that's football and now I'm very happy.

Barcelona superstar Leo Messi scored nine goals in four matches for his side prior the trip to Girona.

And Spanish outlet But Don Balon claim Ronaldo could learn from his Ballon d'Or rival Messi by being more of a team player.

But make no mistake, Guardiola is a football romantic, and for all his spending there are still traditional elements to the modern game that give him satisfaction.

Messi is said to have a close ear to manager Valverde and knows Alcacer will not feature heavily in his plans this season. The Manchester City starlet, on loan at La Liga side Girona, was on the receiving end of a 3-0 beatdown from Barcelona on Saturday. Messi is the best footballer in the world, but friends come first.

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