Barcelona boss, Luis Enrique, has hailed Lionel Messi's consistent brilliance this season, after the Argentine took his tally to 28 goals in 27 games with a hat-trick in a 4-0 win away to Deportivo La Coruna, on Sunday.
Messi's and Enrique's relationship was reported to be frosty, since the four-time FIFA World Player of the Year was benched during his side's 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad earlier this month.
Enrique says Messi is the best player in the world. Victory brought Barcelona back to within a point of league leaders Real Madrid and continued their positive response to an institutional crisis that enveloped the club following the Sociedad defeat.
Enrique is still looking for further improvements, if the Catalans are to continue their pursuit of honours on three fronts this season. One of the reported reasons for the dressing room discontent with Enrique has been his much criticised rotation policy. The 44-year-old named a different line-up for the 29th consecutive game, but maintained the same 11 that started against Atletico last weekend.
However, he refused to admit he had bowed to pressure from his players for a more settled side. Barcelona's captain on the day Andres Iniesta backed his coach's intention to keep all his players heavily involved throughout the campaign. "I don't think the rotations are bad, that way we all feel useful and important," said the Spanish international.
Barcelona's attention now turns to another meeting with Atletico in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarter-final tie on Wednesday.