Barcelona boss Luis Enrique claims it would be “naive” to suggest that his side are not reliant to a certain extent on the form of Lionel Messi.
The Argentina star has scored three goals in his last two LaLiga matches to ensure maximum points from difficult games against Leganes and Atletico Madrid.
Messi, who has scored 35 times in as many appearances this season despite dropping deeper into midfield at times, is one of the few Barca players who has maintained form throughout an inconsistent campaign.
Suggestions of ‘Messidependencia’ have consequently reared their heads once more – especially with the 29-year-old’s future unclear – but Luis Enrique is glad to be able to rely on the player he considers to be the world’s best.
“It would be naive to think that we do not depend on the best player in the world,” the Barca boss told a news conference. “I hope we can depend on him for many more years.
“I still consider him as more of a forward. Sometimes he spends more time in midfield to help us in terms of numbers but I don’t think it matters if he’s spending more time in midfield or up front. What matters is his form.
“The key to all of this is to be effective in defence and attack, not only one or the other. We’ve always spent more time and effort trying to attack than do things defensively.
“I don’t talk about what happened after one game or the other. We look at a season as a whole picture. We’re not at the end yet.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 28, 2017
Barca face Sporting Gijon on Wednesday before they host Celta Vigo at the weekend and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last-16 second leg next week.
Luis Enrique says he could be tempted to rest Messi, Luis Suarez or Neymar against Sporting as he looks to keep the players fresh before they attempt to overturn a 4-0 deficit against the French champions.
“As a professional, it means three points – that’s our clear objective. On a personal level, I’ve been a fan of Sporting since I was born so I wish them nothing but the best,” the 46-year-old, a Sporting youth academy product, said of Wednesday’s game.
“It could the right day to give the trident a break. It could be.”
He added that Arda Turan and Javier Mascherano could be fit to play after recovering from respective adductor and Achilles tendon problems.