Pep Guardiola claims a factor in helping Lionel Messi maintain his high level of performances has been limiting his ‘bursts of effort.’
Messi once again proved Barcelona’s key man again on Tuesday night, scoring a brace as they returned to the top of La Liga with a 5-1 thrashing of Real Valladolid.
At 33-years-old, talks are already circulating around the future of the Argentine forward who quickly emerged as one of the world’s elite players shortly after his Barca debut in 2004.
Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona defeated Real Valladolid on Tuesday night
However, Messi is showing no signs of slowing down, and Guardiola believes micro managing his team efforts over a match are key to maintaining his peak form.
‘Stars need to run like anyone else, if not the team can’t cope, you need to convince them to run,’ the Manchester City boss told Catalunya Radio.
‘Sometimes, you say to them “I won’t make you run 40 metres like the 20-year-old athlete in the team, but give me a reason not to run”.
Pep Guardiola claims keeping Messi world class stems from limiting his running time in games
‘If someone doesn’t run, but scores three goals every game I can buy that, but nobody scores three goals a game, only Messi comes close.
‘Right now, you need to ask Messi to make short bursts of effort. He can’t run for the sake of running, no way. If Leo ran like he ran in his first season with me he’d be injured every three months. Managing legends of 30 and above is the hardest thing for a coach.’
On the subject of Messi’s retirement, Guardiola, who managed him while at Barcelona, claimed that his former club need to prepare a statue for him once he hangs up his boots.
‘One day Messi will retire and Barca will cope with that. What needs to be prepared is the space for the statue, the way to pay tribute to him like [Laszlo] Kubala or Johan [Cruyff], and I’ve no doubt they’ll find it.’