'I would like to enter Messi's brain' - Guardiola awed by one of the most gifted athletes of all time

The former Barcelona boss would like to understand how the Argentine's mind works as he copes with being one of the best in the world

Pep Guardiola believes Lionel Messi is one of the most 'gifted' athletes in history, and would like to 'enter his brain' to understand how he handles pressure.

The current Manchester City manager won a trio of La Liga titles and lifted the Champions League twice with a Messi-inspired Barca team between 2008 and 2012.

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Messi is reportedly close to signing a new long-term contract at Camp Nou and Guardiola said the way the Argentina international handles an extreme level of expectation places him among history's sporting elite.

"He is one of the most privileged, gifted athletes of all time," Guardiola told Catalunya Radio .

"I would like to enter his brain and find out how he can withstand the pressure like he has, with both Barcelona and Argentina on his back.

"The whole world expects him to score three goals and set up three goals in every match. The other players know that they have Messi on their side and will rely on him."

Despite Luis Enrique's final season at Barcelona ending with a single trophy - the Copa Del Rey - Guardiola insisted his time at Camp Nou did not end on a low note.

"You cannot say that they 'only' won the Copa del Rey," the Catalan added. "They chased Real Madrid to the final day of the [LaLiga] season.

"Then in the Champions League, people are wrong if they believe that you can beat all of the big teams in Europe every year."

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Guardiola believes Luis Enrique's replacement, former Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde, is a good appointment for the club.

"Barcelona have not gone anywhere, they're still there," Guardiola said. "Real Madrid have a lot of confidence, but Barcelona will return to fight this year with Valverde's team.

"I am very happy that the club has chosen Valverde as head coach. I spoke to him once and always said to push forward.

"The leadership must now be in this profile: calmer, providing fewer headlines, letting the results speak. He is a sensible person and he knows a lot about football. I have always liked to see his teams play."

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