Football News

Ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique reveals the closest player to Lionel Messi he’s ever coached

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:49, 29 March 2020 | Updated: 12:31, 20 September 2022

Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has described Andres Iniesta as the one player after Lionel Messi that impressed him greatly.

Messi, 32, recently claimed a record sixth Ballon d’Or award and is widely considered as one the best footballers to ever live.

Andres Iniesta at Barça: Five key things to know…

  • Debut: v Club Brugge (October 29, 2002)
  • Appearances: 674
  • Goals/Assists: 57/140
  • Major honours: 32
  • Memorable moment: His late equaliser against Chelsea in the 2008/09 Champions League semi-final.

Since coming through Barcelona’s esteemed La Masia youth set-up, he’s registered 627 goals across 718 appearances while creating a further 261 for his teammates.

Enrique had the pleasure of coaching him between 2014 and 2017 and in their first season together, claimed the club’s second European treble.

To date, Messi has featured alongside Sergio Busquets (512) more times than any other player, and he’s shared the field 489 times with Iniesta, who currently plies his trade with J1 League club Vissel Kobe.

They’ve combined together for 55 goals with Iniesta’s creating 44 times for Messi. Alongside Xavi, the pair forged a formidable triumvirate, and when asked which of those players he’s coached impressed him the most, Enrique wasn’t hesitant to name Messi but there was also high praise for Spain’s 2010 World Cup winner.

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“The player that impressed me most in my career, I don’t know if you mean being myself as a player or as a coach or both, without doubt is Leo Messi,” he said in a Q&A on the Spain national team’s Facebook page.

“Afterwards, I can say that Andres Iniesta is close to something similar to Leo Messi. But Messi is hugely different in respect to the others.”

Iniesta has managed 10 goals and 13 assists in 44 appearances since joining Vissel Kobe, helping the club win the 2019 Emperor’s Cup and the 2020 Japanese Super Cup.