'Messi made me a better coach' - Mourinho says he 'owes' Barcelona star

Lionel Messi, Jose MourinhoGetty

Jose Mourinho says he is grateful to Lionel Messi because the Barcelona star helped make him a better coach.

Although the Argentine sensation has never been coached by the Portuguese, the two have been on opposite sides several times as Barca lined up against Chelsea, Inter and Real Madrid while Mourinho was in charge.

And the 56-year-old says that he is indebted to the the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, as coming up against him has been vital in helping him progress as a manager.

"I always say that I owe so much to my players, and to those who haven't been my players but those who created problems for me," Mourinho told EFE .

"For example, Messi never played for my team, but he played against me and he has made me a better coach for having to prepare matches [to stop him].

"When I say Messi, I also mean the other great players I've faced."

Mourinho has been out of management since he was sacked by Manchester United in December. 

While he may not be working in the Premier League this season, he is excited to see how his former teams and rivals fare in the current campaign.

"In the beginning of the season I was saying [Manchester] City, Liverpool and Tottenham will fight for the title," he added.

"I can risk it a little bit and say for me Tottenham is the third best team in the league and City and Liverpool are going to fight for the title. They are the two strongest teams, the two strongest squads. I think Tottenham are a little bit behind.

"Then, between Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal have to be fighting for fourth, but they will be looking back with a little bit of fear and a little bit of respect, because thanks to the investments by Everton and Leicester, they can be there pushing, trying to get into the top six.

"The Premier League used to be a competition where four or five clubs are fighting for the title, but this year was too obvious. It was too obvious that it wouldn't be a thing for six teams – for two, maximum three."