Erik Ten Hag Believes Lionel Messi Never Got Better After Guardiola’s Departure

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag has insisted that Lionel Messi has never been as good as he was since Pep Guardiola left Barcelona in the summer of 2012.

The Spaniard was appointed as the head coach of Barcelona in 2008 to replace Frank Rijkaard, a decision which coincided with the Catalans’ dominance in Europe; 14 trophies were won under Guardiola’s tutelage.

Messi also catapulted his name into the stratosphere during Guardiola’s time in Spain, winning four consecutive Ballon d’Ors from 2009 to 2012 and breaking records on daily basis.

The Argentine has won only two Ballon d’Ors since the departure of the Spanish coach, while Barcelona have hoisted just one Champions League trophy.

In an interview with Voetbal International, Ten Hag insisted that Messi now plays above his team-mates and admits the 32-year-old has not been his usual consistent excellent self since Guardiola left.

“Messi was one of the leaders, but he also worked for the team and excelled as a result.”

“He has never been as good as under Guardiola.”

“Barcelona has not won much in European terms in recent years either.”

“Messi still excels, but now also occasionally goes through the lower limit. It was never like that under Guardiola.”

“Pep has guts, he dares to be pioneering and innovative.”

Ten Hag worked with Guardiola for the first two years during the latter’s time as Bayern Munich head coach.

The Dutchman was coaching the reserve side before he moved back to the Eredivisie to take over as Utrecht’s manager.

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