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Roura: "Messi is so natural, you forget how great he really is"

"We have to appreciate the importance of what he has done, he has made history," said the Barcelona assistant coach, who will take charge of the team against Córdoba.


Roura: "Messi is so natural, you forget how great he really is"

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura took over press duties ahead of the club's Copa del Rey last 16 second leg tie against Córdoba on Thursday, in the absence of first team coach Tito Vilanova, who is in New York to meet doctors and get a second opinion on his illness.

Roura began by describing how happy the club were to see Leo Messi named the winner of the FIFA Ballon d'Or on Monday.

"We have to appreciate the importance of what he has done, he has made history," he said.

"It's an enormous achievement, but when you see him every day and see how natural it comes to him and how normal he is, you forget how great he is. We have to take our hats off to him."

Roura also praised the club's academy, 'La Masia', for producing four of the players that made it into the FIFA team of the year.

"Andrés [Iniesta], Xavi, Piqué all made it [into the team, plus Messi and Dani Alves], we are so proud to have the Ballon d'Or winner and five players in the team of the year. From the point of view of our academy, it makes us very proud, it's a luxury for us. The club and everyone that has ever worked here should be happy and proud."

Roura did not reveal whether Messi would play against Córdoba on Thursday but reaffirmed the player's commitment to playing. "Everyone knows that Messi wants to play in every game, that's another remarkable thing about him which makes him an even better player."

And he reiterated the club's faith in David Villa, who has been the subject of much transfer speculation since the January transfer window opened.

"He doesn't need to revindicate himself. We're not going to discover what type of player he is now. For us he is a hugely important player, a quality player, tomorrow we'll see if he's in the team or not.

"He's just come back from an awful injury and the work he has done is very commendable. He will return to his old self and be the player he was once again. He's working a lot and very hard and he's improving day to day, we have no doubt he'll return to his 100% best."

Roura confirmed that Vilanova, who underwent an operation to treat a tumour on his parotid gland in December, would not be able to coach the team against Córdoba and spoke about the effect the coach's improved condition has had on the team.

"At first it was a difficult situation for everyone but the team were delighted when we saw his condition was improving. This club only gets stronger with adversity, it makes us stronger for the future."

The assistant also praised Pedro, who scored twice against Espanyol last Sunday.

"He is one of the players that has improved the most since he was a youngster. He has won everything there is to win. It looked like he was going through a goal drought but it was just a matter of time before he started scoring again."

Finally, the assistant spoke of his delight at the announcement that former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would be returning to football next season after his sabbatical in New York.

"It's great news, it's such a shame that a coach of his quality is not involved in football at the moment."

Estadísticas AS.com