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Messi: "Rijkaard gave us more freedom"

10 December 2009 12:55

(GSM) - Lionel Messi is full of praise for the coaches he experienced so far in his early but impressive career. The Barcelona striker refuses to say that the Catalans have improved their play since Josep Guardiola succeeded Frank Rijkaard. "I don't like these kind of comparisons."

"Rijkaard is a great coach, just like Guardiola," the Argentina international told L'Equipe. "I'll never forget the fact that he (Rijkaard) launched my career, that he had confidence in me while I was only sixteen or seventeen." Still, Messi sees a difference between the two tacticians, but in another aspect. "Guardiola is more strict while Rijkaard gave us more freedom, but unfortunately we couldn't handle it."

Last Sunday, Messi received the Ballon d'Or, the European footballer of the year award. Guardiola thinks that Barcelona's team performance is vital for 'Little Lionel's' achievement. "The way Barca plays, makes it easier for me to excel," Messi agrees. "Of course, the level of my teammates helped me, just as the tactics."

Guardiola, who's in charge of Barca since the summer of 2008, led the Blaugrana to the Champions League, La Liga, the Spanish Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and European Super Cup titles.

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