Lionel Messi would have no problem performing on a wet and windy night in Stoke, according to his Barcelona team-mate Denis Suarez.
British pundits have long used the ‘Stoke test’ as a comical marker by which to judge the ability of the world’s top players, musing whether they would still be as effective while coping with a combination of dreary weather and the Premier League club’s perceived former reliance on physical tactics.
Suarez is in no doubt, however, that Messi would take such conditions in his stride.
“Of course he could [perform],” he is quoted as saying in The Observer. “He’d pick up the ball, dribble past three players and hit it into the top corner.
“I’ve seen him seen him do it here in the rain, I’ve seen him do it in the midday sun.
“He does it where he wants, when he wants. Messi’s unique. Put him in any team in the world and he’d be the best, just the same. And against English teams it usually goes OK for him.”
Messi and Barca head to England on Tuesday to face Manchester City in the Champions League, with the Catalans having run out comprehensive 4-0 winners when the sides met at Camp Nou on October 19.
The match will see Suarez return to City for the first time since departing the club in 2013 and he can already identify the changes Pep Guardiola has made in his short time there, though he feels they have a long way to go before they can be compared to Barcelona.
“Barca is a role model for every club: everyone wants to play like them,” the 22-year-old added. “Well, they can try.
“Barca hasn’t come about in two years. It’s years of building an identity, staying faithful to a philosophy, the kids in the academy playing like the first team. City will try to do that. I know, I was there.
“They showed me the project, everything they wanted to do. They have the structure and the ability. Now they’ve signed a coach who’ll help them do that.
“You can see that Pep’s giving young players a chance. When I was there it was a bit different, it was the more physical players who went up to the first team. It was about strength.
“The reserves played a more direct style, almost long ball forward, look for the second ball. When Attilio [Lombardo] took over we tried to play a little differently but things didn’t change much.
“The way the first team play now is magnificent; Pep’s changed the philosophy. They already played attacking football but now it’s more about possession, emphasising the importance of having the ball.”