Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed Barcelona would be just like any “normal” side if they did not have superstar Lionel Messi.
The Frenchman also questioned whether Messi could be as great a player if he left Camp Nou and had to survive outside of the confines of a side that was versed in the ways of tiki-taka.
“He has won absolutely everything he can at club level, and beaten all the numbers. Could he be the same player somewhere else?” he said in an interview with French TV station BeIn Sport.
“I believe that Barça suits him well, they have lots of possession, so they can keep the ball while he finds a good position to be a threat. So not exactly the same player.
“But, I reverse it, would Barça be the same without Messi? Certainly not, they quickly would become much more normal.”
The Gunners boss may find some opposition to his views from Barça fans around the world, who would likely point towards the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa and his former captain at Emirates Stadium, Cesc Fabregas, as others that could lead the line.
There is little doubt, however, that the presence of Lionel Messi takes Barcelona up a level, which is illustrated by the sheer number of goals he has scored recently.
Last season he broke the record number of goals scored by an individual in a European club season with 73.
Messi has also bagged a total of 82 goals in 2012, which leaves him just three behind the record for goals scored ion a calendar year – currently held by Germany legend Gerd Muller, which was set in 1972.
As well as closing on one of the greatest goalscoring records in football, Messi is up for a record fourth successive FIFA Ballon ’Or award this year – he is heavy favourite to triumph from the final three-man shortlist with Barcelona team-mate Iniesta and his great rival from Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, Wenger will be hoping to get more quality in his squad this coming January, as he confirmed Arsenal’s new sponsorship deal would allow him funds to make signings in the transfer window.