'Barcelona players must adapt to Messi' - Team mates must change to accommodate all-time great, says De Jong

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Barcelona forward Lionel Messi
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The Argentine attacker is without a goal from open play in 2020-21 but the Dutch midfielder insists he is still the world's best player.

Lionel Messi remains the best footballer in the world and it is down to his Barcelona team-mates to play to the forward's strengths, according to midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has yet to fully adapt to new boss Ronald Koeman's 4-2-3-1 system, failing to score from open play in six matches this season.

He has also created just one chance in La Liga this term, with young academy product Ansu Fati - five goals and one assist in all competitions - stealing the limelight, but De Jong, who has thrived in a deeper midfield role under Koeman, insists it is down to the others in Barca's squad to ensure Messi is in the right positions to work his magic.

"When you have Messi in your team, of course you have the best player in the world in your team," he told UEFA.com

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"You try to get him into the best positions to make a difference and I think we need to adapt to him. When he is receiving the ball in a position where he can make the difference, he will make it for you, always."

De Jong struggled at times in his debut campaign at Camp Nou, but has been shifted into his favoured position by Koeman alongside Sergio Busquets.

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The Netherlands international is averaging more successful dribbles this season (2.45) compared to the 2019-20 campaign (1.95) and, while he is touching the ball less often - down from 81.43 per game to 77.73 - he is happy with the tactical tweak.

"I think in my nature as a player, I want to receive the ball early in the play and to set up the play," he said. "I think that's more my style of play than waiting for the ball and receiving it up front, and touching the ball less. 

"I think I feel more comfortable in the pivot position than high up front, but I can also play high up front. It doesn't matter for me so much but, if I had to choose, I would rather play as a double pivot than, for example, as a 'mediapunta' (false nine)."

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