Messi is extraordinary, extraterrestrial – Enrique

Barcelona fans have many more years to enjoy Lionel Messi , assured outgoing coach Luis Enrique after the Argentine handed his boss a successful send – off in a 3 – 1 Copa del Rey final win over Alaves .

Messi opened the scoring and helped set up goals from Neymar and Paco Alcacer just before half – time as Alaves slumped to defeat in their first Spanish Cup final despite Theo Hernandez’ s stunning free-kick to level at 1 – 1 .

“ He is extraordinary , an extraterrestrial , ” Enrique said of Messi after he lifted his 30 th trophy at Barca a month ahead of his 30 th birthday .

“ To be the number one you don ’ t just have to be the chosen one in all the technical aspects of the game , but you have to be very strong physically .

“ Leo Messi is a very strong player , he takes care of himself as much as he can .

“ He has a change of pace which he will maintain. Messi will be around for a while to come .”

Victory saw Enrique seal a ninth title of a largely successful three – year spell in charge despite missing out on La Liga and the Champions League this season.

However , he insisted he had no regrets over his decision to not renew his expiring contract after being worn down by the pressures that come with being Barca boss .

“ I am the one who decided it was best to stop and it has worked out perfectly .

“ I think it has for the players too. As I understand this profession it is of the highest demands with a daily grind .

“ We would have liked to have won La Liga again and be taking part in the Champions League final , but it wasn ’ t to be and I think the fans are aware of the effort and the sacrifice of the players . ”

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And he dedicated his latest success to those he says suffered most through his stress over the past three years — his family .

“ I have enjoyed many things and when you have the opportunity to make Barca fans happy and lift a title, it is something that makes you proud , ” he added .

“ I dedicate this especially to my wife and daughter because they are the ones that suffer most when Luis Enrique arrives home angry after a defeat . ”

Alaves coach Mauricio Pellegrino hailed his players ’ efforts after an excellent season in which they also finished ninth in La Liga on their return to the top flight .

However , he lamented conceding twice in three minutes on the stroke of half- time that left him with too much of a hill to climb in the second period .

“ I have a contradictory feeling given the disappointment of the result given the desire we had to do something more , and also the feeling of thanks to the players not only for what they did today but during the whole year, ” said the Argentine .

“ For me the key goal was the third one . That created too big a deficit to overcome .

“ My plan was to get to the end of the game still with a chance and that third goal was the one that changed the result , but not the spirit of the players which is why I feel so proud of them .”

AFP

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