Former Liverpool midfielder Coutinho hailed Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi as “the best ever” after the Argentine superstar’s virtuoso performance inspired a 4-2 win over Tottenham.
Messi scored two goals, played spectacular passes in the build-up to the other two and hit the post twice at Wembley as Spurs were condemned to a second consecutive Champions League defeat that leaves them third in Group B, six points adrift of Barcelona and Inter Milan.
It was a masterclass that garnered praise from across the football world as well as social media and sparked fresh debate about where Messi ranks among the sport’s all-time greats.
After the match, Coutinho – who scored Barcelona’s opening goal at Wembley – insisted that he has no doubts about his teammate’s position in the pantheon.
“Messi is the best ever,” the Brazilian told beIN Sports. “He always does new things on the field, I'm glad he scored two goals.
“All Champions League matches are [difficult] like that. We have to be at 100 per cent. Today we deserved the victory.”
Messi’s two goals took his tally to five in two Champions League appearances this season, and manager Ernesto Valverde praised his captain’s habit of delivering on the big stage.
“He came here after scoring a hat-trick against PSV and now he's scored two goals again,” he said.
“Messi always shows up. He was unfortunate to hit the post twice. He's happy and that's what is important to us.”
Messi was controversially absent from the top three of the Best FIFA Men’s Player award last month, with Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric ultimately claiming the prize ahead of Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah.
Jordi Alba claimed that Messi had further undermined the credibility of the decision with his Wembley masterclass. "For me, The Best is a lie,” he said.
“Modric is a great player, one of the best in the world. But Messi is like at a separate table, plays at another level. He has once again demonstrated that he is the best in the world.
“When Leo runs, the rest of us only have to grit our teeth. He is the best and he makes us all a little better.”
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