Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has said that Barcelona star Lionel Messi has not reached the same level since Pep Guardiola left Camp Nou in 2012.
Guardiola took over as Barcelona manager in 2008 and during a four-season run, he led the Blaugrana to a stunning period of success that included three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey wins and two Champions League triumphs.
Messi also experienced an extraordinary run of individual success during this period, winning the Ballon d’Or in four consecutive years between 2009 and 2012.
Ten Hag believes that during Guardiola’s reign, Messi was able to be more of a team player and under subsequent coaches, the Argentine has seen his level dip at times below where it was under the Spaniard.
“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,” Ten Hag told Voetbal International.
“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.”