Begiristain Hails Messi; Defends Henry & Valdés

Barcelona director of football, Txiki Begiristain, has today said that Lionel Messi is the best player in the world, while defending the likes of Titi Henry and Víctor Valdés.
Barcelona might be running away with La Liga at the half-way stage but there is no doubt that no-one at the Catalan club is getting carried away.

From the players, to the fans, all the way up to the directors, there is an air of modesty about the side, as shown by director of football, Txiki Begiristain today.

The Barcelona chief spoke to the Catalan press about the the side, saying that they have to be 'humble and prudent' in the new year, and reserved his praise for coach Pep Guardiola.

"It is the Barcelona that we had predicted, but the results have surprised us, even though we knew the bad times would pass," he mused.

"The main change has been in the technical team, especially with Guardiola. We know that each year we have a competitive team, that has desires and can win it all, and that we would rise up."

Barcelona's superb form this season had seen them rocket to the top of the domestic table and also finish top of their Champions League group, earning them a tie with Lyon in the next round.

Begiristain admits he has been surprised by how fast the progress has been made, but that this is what they dreamed of, and for now it is a reality.

He also spoke briefly about some of the players who have made this season for Barcelona so far, such as Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, and Víctor Valdés.

The director was in no doubt as he insisted that Messi is the 'best player in the world', and then he went on to defend Valdés, who has come in for some criticism lately.

"He is an extraordinary goalkeeper. In fact, I will never forget Paris [when Barcelona won the Champions League]. I would never be able to put an exact number on it, but I would say 40% or 50% of that final was thanks to Víctor," he declared.

Begiristain then went on to praise Henry, who has struggled to settle in Spain, but has been in some fine form lately.

"Henry arrived last year in a very difficult internal situation, with a dressing room lacking leadership," he began.

"He probably did not expect that, but today, with a new environment and team, Henry has had some great games."

James Walker-Roberts,