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20th-Jan-2015

Messi a class above all season, insists Barca boss

By AFP, Madrid

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique hailed Lionel Messi's consistent brilliance this season after the Argentine took his tally to 28 goals in 27 games with a hat-trick in a 4-0 win away to Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday.
Messi and Enrique's relationship has reportedly been frosty since the four-time World Player of the Year had been left on the bench for his side's 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad earlier this month.
However, Enrique has repeatedly insisted Messi remains the best player in the world and refused suggestions he has taken his form to another level over the past week with another stellar performance after vanquishing La Liga champions Atletico Madrid last weekend with a goal and two assists.
"Messi has been at an extraordinarily high level all season," said Enrique, despite reports of a dressing room rift between the two in recent weeks.
"He hasn't dipped at any point. He has been world class."
Victory brought Barca back to within a point of league leaders Real Madrid and continued their positive response to an institutional crisis that enveloped the club following the Sociedad defeat.
However, Enrique is still looking for further improvements if the Catalans are to continue their pursuit of honours on three fronts this season.
"Winning is good for the players' confidence but there are still many things to improve, both in attack and defence.
"We still need to improve in both areas because that is the only way to challenge for all the titles."
One of the reported reasons for the dressing room discontent with Enrique has been his much criticised rotation policy.
The 44-year-old named a different line-up for the 29th consecutive game, but maintained the same 11 that started against Atletico last weekend.
However, he refused to admit he had bowed to pressure from his players for a more settled side.
"I am not faithful to one single manner of doing things. I played the 11 I think will work best.