Former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has compared managing Lionel Messi to what it would have been like to coach NBA legend Michael Jordan.
In a recent interview with Relevo, the former Barca boss – now in charge of Athletic Club – was asked if it was “complicated” to manage a legendary player like Messi.
“No”, Valverde replied. “In the end, look, when you go to a club like that it’s easier if you assume who you’re going to work with. It’s true that you have to take into account who is who. Messi is a player that you know is going to give you everything.” He went on to compare managing Messi to NBA legend Jordan. He argued that, as was the case with Jordan at the Chicago Bulls, Messi carried so much responsibility at Barca that it wasn’t difficult for a coach to motivate him. “In the end, they are players who are capable of assuming that leadership, they are different,” he added.
Valverde was in charge of Barcelona for two-and-a-half seasons between 2017 and 2020, and guided the club to two La Liga titles. However, he never truly won over the Barca fans, and there was speculation at the time that not all of Barca’s stars warmed to him.
Messi has made a blistering start to his Inter Miami career, but on Saturday he sat out his third-straight match with a leg injury. Miami salvaged a 1-1 draw against New York City FC as their MLS play-off hopes suffered a blow.