Barcelona: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique hailed hat-trick hero Lionel Messi as the greatest player in the world “in every position” after the Argentine maestro sent another record tumbling in a thumping 7-0 Champions League win over Celtic.
“Messi plays with complete freedom and he can change his position as he wants. He’s the best in the world in every position,” Luis Enrique told a news conference late on Tuesday.
“If he plays as a number 9, a number 8 or a number 6, he’s the best in the world. He can judge the perfect pass from 40 yards and put the ball wherever he wants.
“He’s total football and we’d be very stupid if we imposed limits on him,” he added.
“For me, he’s the best player of all time, both for the number of goals he scores and for his footballing vision.”
Celtic coach Brendan Rodgers was also in awe of Messi and the other parts of the ruthless ‘MSN’ attacking trident of Messi, Suarez and Neymar.
“They are very special players, they have incredible movement and speed and stopping them is very difficult because they are world class,” he said.
“We tried to close down the spaces but they have so much quality and speed. They move the ball around so quickly, they are at the top of the game.”
Messi became the first player in European Cup history to score six hat-tricks as he bagged his 40th career treble for club and country in Barca’s biggest European Cup win.
It was also Celtic’s heaviest ever defeat in the competition.
The five-times World Player of the Year also assisted one of Luis Suarez’s two strikes in the goal glut as he wove his way across the Barcelona front line.
Meanwhile, Suarez said he had missed linking up with his insatiable strike partners Neymar and Messi.
“It’s ages since the three of us were able to play together from the off — we’ve missed that ability to enjoy ourselves,” the Uruguayan said.
Suarez and Messi started Saturday’s shock defeat to Alaves on the bench, while Neymar missed the start of the season due to his participation in the Olympics, where he fired Brazil to a first ever Gold medal in soccer.
The three South Americans lined up together against Celtic for the first time since last season’s King’s Cup final.
“The summer break, the Olympics and then Neymar’s holidays got in the way. Today we really enjoyed being back in tandem,” added Suarez.
Barca captain Andres Iniesta also paid tribute to Barca’s deadly trident.
“They are the three players in the world who are the best in their position and one of them is unique,” he said.
“Leo just keeps proving that in football terms he’s unique. As a team we play and work to make sure the three of them are happy, that they get chances. All we can hope is that they keep scoring like that.”