Quick Setien claims that Lionel Messi is difficult to manage

Former Barcelona manager Quique Setién has given an insight into managing Lionel Messi, describing the forward as ‘the best of all time’, even if his greatness makes him difficult to handle at times.

Setién managed Barcelona between January and August, before he was sacked after an 8–2 defeat by Bayern Munich.

In Setien’s brief, ultimately disappointing spell in charge, he handled Messi 25 times – during which the Argentine was involved in 39 straight goals despite Barcelona’s other shortcomings.

Setien talks about the challenges of managing Messi/Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

In an interview with El Pais, Setien – whose relationship with Messi was the subject of much scrutiny earlier in the year – compared the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to basketball great Michael Jordan, saying that he ‘Continuity’ is unparalleled in football. But it is difficult to manage.

“I think Messi is the best player ever,” Setien said. “There are other great players who have been great, but nobody has had the consistency that this guy has had over the years.

“Leo is hard to handle. Who am I to change him! If they’ve accepted him as he is for years and not changed him.

“There’s another side to just being a player and it’s more difficult to manage. Much more difficult. It’s something inherent in many players that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary. [‘The Last Dance’]. You see things you don’t expect.

Setien’s disastrous spell as Barcelona manager ended with defeat to Bayern Munich/Pool/Getty Images

“He’s very reserved but he shows you the things he wants. He doesn’t talk much.”

Given that Messi is well over 100 goals clear at the top of La Liga’s all-time scoring charts, and the all-time leading scorer in Barcelona’s history, Setien was probably right to leave it at that.

Barca have continued to struggle since parting ways with Setien in August, and have won just two of their first six league games under Ronald Koeman in 2020/21. They are eight points behind Real Madrid at the summit of La Liga, having played a game less than the defending champions.

Meanwhile, off-field turmoil threatens the stability of the club.

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