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‘Messi is like the Matrix, he plays in slow motion’ – Moreno sees Barcelona talisman as ‘greatest of all time’

13:28 BST 29/06/2019
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The former Blaugrana coach, who is now manager of the Spain national side, considers the Argentine to be the finest talent to have played the game

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi makes football look like the Matrix, says Robert Moreno, with “the greatest of all time” able to make it appear as though he is playing in “slow motion”.

The Argentina international has raised the bar of individual excellence to heights never seen before over the course of a remarkable career.

Defining his achievements has become quite a challenge, with many suggesting that the mercurial 32-year-old is an extraterrestrial from another planet.

Former Bara coach Moreno, who is now manager of the Spain national side, would buy into that assessment, with Messi making the extraordinary appear simple.

He told Sport of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner: “Leo is the greatest of all time. I didn't see Pele or Maradona play live, but Messi is incredible just in the training sessions. The perfect professional.

“Some believe it's just a natural gift but he's one of the first to arrive at training, who looks after what he eats. Being the greatest for so long and with so many titles, he deserves even more credit.

“In terms of interpreting his style of play, with Luis Enrique we made a comparison and that was comparing him to the Matrix. It's like the scene stops, everything is in slow motion, and he passes the ball.

“Leo sees things that way on the pitch. He analyses and looks at what is happening. He searches for space to receive the ball and get involved. With every passing year, he gets even better because he understands the game so well.”

Messi has broken countless records and collected an enviable haul of major honours, but not everybody shares Moreno’s opinion of the South American.

Former Barca boss Louis van Gaal has suggested that an all-time great is not a “team player” and would have even more medals in his collection if he were.

Moreno is not buying that, adding on the assessment of an outspoken Dutchman: “It's tough because I admire Van Gaal for what he's done but I also admire Messi a lot.

“Van Gaal focuses on the collective idea but if you try to force pieces to put your system it's a mistake. You need to look at what's available to you and create a collective system.

“We, with Luis [Enrique], thought that the rest of the players should adapt to what disruption Leo generates out on the pitch.

“He could move into areas where no one else could but the team must be prepared to defend should he lose possession.

“With one person it's easy to coordinate things. With five, less so, which is what Van Gaal was referring to.”