Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde said he had “run out of words” to describe Lionel Messi after his stellar display in a 5-1 win against Real Valladolid.
Messi struck twice, including a landmark 50th career free-kick, and provided brilliant assists for Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez as Barca returned to the top of La Liga with a seventh straight win in all competitions.
Clement Lenglet gave Valverde’s side a flying start, while Kiko Olivas had hauled Valladolid level in the first half.
“What else can be said about him? I’ve run out of words,” Valverde told a post-match press conference, quoted in marca.com.
“We always know that he will appear, whatever the match.
“His talent isn’t comparable to anything, the reality is that every time he touches the ball, something special happens. I just don’t know what to say.”
Barcelona were without a game at the weekend following the postponement of El Clasico for security reasons, while Valverde handed 16-year-old Ansu Fati his second league start.
“It wasn’t an excessive match, but I think we played well,” added Valverde, whose side play at Levante on Saturday before next Tuesday’s home Champions League tie against Slavia Prague.
“We’re in a week of three matches and it was important to start it well.
“We have a big squad and all the players are fighting to play. There are players who deserve to play but can’t always do so. We will be managing the group.”
Valladolid had been unbeaten in their previous five matches and manager Sergio Gonzalez urged his players to keep their heads high.
“We did the most difficult thing, which was to match that initial goal and at the time we were changing the structure of the team,” Gonzalez said.
“Then Messi’s free-kick is a masterpiece. Barcelona wanted to rebel. They had not played for a long time and everything went straight.
“The result is bulky, but we have to assimilate it, raise our heads and relativise it.”