“Celtic could beat Barca if we had ‘greatest player ever’ Messi” – Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers has hailed the quality of Lionel Messi, claiming Celtic would have a ‘big chance’ of beating Barcelona if they had the Argentine superstar in their ranks.

Messi scored both goals as Barca won 2-0 at Celtic Park in the Champions League on Wednesday, having bagged a hat-trick in a 7-0 thrashing at Camp Nou in the reverse fixture in September.

The 29-year-old forward’s absence was felt in a 0-0 La Liga draw at home to nine-man Malaga on Saturday, a match he missed due to illness.

And former Liverpool manager Rodgers, speaking after the loss in Glasgow, was asked if Celtic would have a chance of upsetting Luis Enrique’s heavyweights should Messi temporarily swap sides.

“We’d have had a big chance,” he said.

“It shows the difference he makes – you look at the game at the weekend [against Malaga]. Messi is arguably the greatest player ever, so when he plays in your team, he makes everyone else better.

“He’s a phenomenal player, an incredible player, and he always is hungry to score. His first goal was that run that he makes, and a wonderful finish. Our players will learn you can’t give a player of that quality that space.”

Messi now has 18 goals in domestic and European competition this season, with that return generated in just 15 appearances.

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