Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simone has stated that no player — not even Lionel Messi — is bigger than the team, claiming that the Argentine has improved further because of the performance levels of Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Lionel Messi is the greatest player of his generation, with many of the opinion that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is also the greatest to ever play the game. However, compatriot Diego Simeone believes that even the little magician is not more important than the team as a whole.
The Atletico Madrid coach also had words of praise for Barcelona manager Luis Enrique, who he claims has improved the team and built a more complete version than his predecessors.
Messi not bigger than FC Barcelona — Suarez, Neymar have improved him
Diego Simeone’s emphasis on team work led Atletico Madrid to an improbable league title in the 2013-14 season, while also helping them register a strong finish in 2014-15. This season, Los Rojiblancos are on their way to a potential second-place finish, ahead of city rivals Real Madrid.
The Atletico Madrid manager has claimed that even Lionel Messi is not bigger than the club. Interviewed by La Nacion newspaper on the 10-year anniversary of his coaching debut, the 45-year-old said: “Even though it is repetitive to say it, no individual is more important than the team.
“Not even in the case of Lionel [Messi], because even though he’s the best, he improved even more when [Luis] Suarez and Neymar reached the level of performance they have now. This strengthens our belief that even the best players in the world need other players around them.”
Barcelona more complete under Enrique, one of the best of all time
Complimenting the work of his Barcelona counterpart Luis Enrique, Simeone opined that the team the Catalans have assembled is on its way to becoming one of the best of all time.
He said: “Much will depend upon how they finish this season, but the work of Luis Enrique is extraordinary.
“[Pep] Guardiola built that champion Barcelona club. He built the team that he imagined, but Luis Enrique took over a winning club and kept improving it because this Barcelona counter-attacks, works on offence and has improved stopping the ball on defence. They are more complete. They are on their way to becoming one of the best.”
Atletico Madrid are currently 4 points clear of cross-town rivals Real Madrid and 8 behind league leaders Barcelona, with 9 more rounds of games to be played in the Spanish la Liga.
Having played both their title rivals twice already, Atletico will have to hope that the Catalans slip up against Real Madrid and drop points elsewhere as well, in order to have any chance of winning their second title in three years.
Simone’s side will be relying on their teamwork and defence if they are to accomplish this task, with Los Rojiblancos conceding just 12 times in 29 games — a whopping 10 times fewer than Barcelona.