EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Ernesto Valverde deflected credit for Barcelona's 2-1 win over Juventus in his pre-season debut as Barcelona manager, noting he's not the first coach to benefit from the talents of Lionel Messi.
While Neymar grabbed the headlines, scoring twice amid rumours he is on the verge of sealing a lucrative deal to join Paris Saint-Germain, Messi also delivered his fair share of magic over the opening 45 minutes at MetLife Stadium.
The International Champions Cup clash saw Messi return to the site of Argentina's loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final last summer — a match that saw the five-time Ballon d'Or winner miss a penalty and announce what would turn out to be a brief international retirement.
But Messi cut a more upbeat figure Saturday, linking up well with fellow forwards Neymar and Paco Alcacer while picking apart the Juve back line.
"I'm not discovering Messi," Valverde said. "Everybody already knows him, we enjoy him when he plays."
Although there has been talk that Messi could play a midfield role for Barca this season, the 30-year-old lined up in his customary position on the right flank before making a halftime exit.
As far as Valverde is concerned, Messi can find ways to change the game no matter what position he plays.
"He knows better than anyone where to be to get the ball and for the team to find him," Valverde said.