The former Barcelona midfielder has revealed that a mercurial talent proved himself from day one at Camp Nou as he stunned two iconic team-mates
Lionel Messi left Barcelona in no doubt as to his talent in his very first training session, Xavi has revealed.
The mercurial Argentine was just 16 years old when he was invited to work with the senior squad at Camp Nou.
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Those within the first-team ranks were already aware of an emerging talent at La Masia, but were stunned to find that he was even better than expected and clearly destined for superstardom.
Iconic defenders Carles Puyol and Lilian Thuram were among those to find out the hard way just how good Messi was, with the precocious teenager leaving his team-mates in awe.
Barca legend Xavi told AS on his first experience of the Messi phenomenon: “They’d already told me about this kid, I’d been warned that there was this young Argentinean kid coming through who was very good.
“They’d even mentioned his name but I’d forgotten. But then, when I saw him in training aged just 16, I could see exactly what they were on about.
“There was a training drill we used to do in which players are one-on-one against [Lillian] Thuram, and [Carles] Puyol… I saw Messi take on those two and couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought: ‘Blimey, here this kid who’s only 16 years old, dodging past professional defenders, internationals.
“Even then you could tell that he was different.
“It’s obvious that he has an innate talent when he is one-against-one, he’s fast, he scores goals, he passes, shoots… he’s amazing.”
Having proved himself among a star-studded squad at Camp Nou, it did not take long for Messi to be handed his senior debut.
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He has gone on to make 603 appearances for Barcelona, netting 523 goals and breaking countless records.
The Catalan giants have moved to ensure that they will continue to benefit from his talent for the considerable future after agreeing a new contract.
Messi’s fresh terms tie him to Barca until 2021 and include a €700 million release clause intended to ensure that there is no repeat of last summer’s Neymar saga at Camp Nou.