Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has lauded the form of Arda Turan, backing the Turkey midfielder to shine in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi.
Luis Enrique’s side were dealt a blow in late September as Messi picked up a knee injury in the 1-1 LaLiga draw with Atletico Madrid.
And though Luis Enrique – who is preparing to face his former employers Celta Vigo on Sunday – conceded that Messi’s absence will of course be felt, he is confident that in-form Arda, who has already netted five goals and amassed four assists this term, can fill the void.
“Unfortunately, we were without him [Messi] for two months last year,” Luis Enrique said. “But the players know that they must play to win titles and they are doing.
“Clearly, Arda now has more spectacular numbers in terms of his goals scored, but we must take into account adaptation.
“Until January he could not play, but I have always been happy with how he’s played. Perhaps it has not been as spectacular for the fans, but he has always been at a high level.
“But things are always developing, and he is improving but we demand that from all the players.
“Celta are a dangerous team due to their way of playing. We know it will be tough. They have lost some important players like Nolito, but they have signed well.
“They have had some good results in the league and the Europa League. We know how difficult it is to play against them.”
Sunday’s LaLiga clash also marks a significant milestone in the career of Barca’s Andres Iniesta, who is set to make his 600th appearance for the club, and his coach was quick to praise the Spain midfielder.
“I also played with him so I have double the reason to be able to thank him for 600, and I hope and know there will be more,” he added.
“Nobody will have remembered him if he was a terrible player, but he has been so good. Everybody who enjoys football can enjoy watching Iniesta play.”