'Everything Changes When Messi Plays' - Jordi Alba Sees Barcelona With The Edge On Rivals

The Spain international defender has always been a big fan of his Argentine team-mate and has once again taken the opportunity to sing his praises
When Lionel Messi plays “everything changes”, says Barcelona team-mate Jordi Alba.

The mercurial Argentine forward has been a talismanic presence at Camp Nou once again this season, with his 36-goal return keeping treble dreams alive.

La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League prizes remain up for grabs, with Messi having helped to inspire trophy challenges on multiple fronts.

Alba is expecting more of the same at the business end of the season, with Barca aware that they always stand a chance whenever their 30-year-old superstar is on the pitch.

The European Championship winner told reporters ahead of a Champions League quarter-final first leg clash with Roma: “He gives rivals respect and he makes us better, everything changes with him.

“When Messi is playing there are always more chances to win games.”

While there is no doubting who the star of the show is at Barcelona, Ernesto Valverde’s side are far from a one-man team.

Among the other star turns at their disposal, Sergio Busquets may be ready to make his return to action after a three-week absence on Wednesday.

Alba said of the World Cup-winning midfielder’s values: “He is a crucial player for us.

“He gives us balance, with the ball he is the number one, in defence too, we hope he’s with us.”

With Messi up top and Busquets in the engine room, Samuel Umtiti will be among those looking to keep the back door bolted for Barca.

The France international has been sparking plenty of transfer talk over recent weeks, with Manchester United reportedly ready to trigger his release clause, but he is another key figure in the eyes of Alba.

He added on a player Barca are hoping to tie down on fresh terms: “He’s a player who has grown a lot since he came to Barca.

“He’s a top player who makes us better and is committed to the team.

“Another thing is what he says and when he says it, and we have to respect that.”

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