Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli thinks there “should be two Ballons d’Or; one for Lionel Messi and one for the rest”, such is the Barcelona striker’s supremacy.
Argentina captain Messi has won the award five times in its various guises and has been included on the 30-man shortlist in 2016.
The 29-year-old helped Barcelona to a LaLiga and Copa del Rey double in 2015-16, and such is his quality Sampaoli believes additional accolades are required to give others a chance of winning.
Speaking ahead of Barca’s visit to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday, Sampaoli said: “There should be two Ballons d’Or; one for Messi and one for the rest.
“Since his emergence he has been far above the rest. Wanting to compare the incomparable ends up being a mistake.
“The way to stop him is to try to make it so he does not participate and does not get the ball. There is a plan against Barcelona and another against Leo.”
Sampaoli confirmed Nicolas Pareja is unavailable for selection due to injury, while he will wait until the last moment before making a call on Samir Nasri’s fitness after a hamstring problem kept him out of the 4-0 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb in midweek.
“Pareja will not play and for Nasri we will wait. The rest are all good,” he added.
“[Nasri’s] intention is to play. We appreciate that and therefore we will wait until the last moment.
“Because of what he says there is a high percentage he will play. After training and before the game we will assess him.”
Barca will be without the likes of Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Jeremy Mathieu and Andres Iniesta due to injury, but the Sevilla boss knows they cannot be underestimated.
“I do not think they are in crisis … they are one of the two or three best teams in the world and the quality they have, in addition to Messi, makes them practically unstoppable,” said Sampaoli.