Lionel Messi ‘playing out of his skin’ for Barcelona, says Sergi Roberto

Barcelona defender Sergi Roberto says Lionel Messi is “playing out of his skin” for the team after watching the wantaway Argentine put on a masterclass in the 3-0 win at Celta Vigo.

Messi has raced out of the blocks to start the season, as if on a one-man mission to prove that there is no lingering animosity over his doomed bid to force a move away from Camp Nou earlier this summer.

After Ansu Fati had opened the scoring, Messi helped double Barca’s lead early in the second half as he powered down Barca’s right deep into Celta territory before unleashing a shot that deflected in via Lucas Olaza.

Messi later had a strike ruled out for offside and then created Barca’s third goal in added time, slaloming through Celta’s defence again before and firing a shot that Celta goalkeeper Ivan Villar could only parry into the path of Roberto who duly tucked home the rebound.

“Leo is so fired up right now,” Roberto said. “He ran so much today and played out of his skin for the team.”

Messi has sought to draw a line under his efforts to leave the club over the summer as well as his vociferous criticism of president Josep Maria Bartomeu, saying in a recent interview that the time had come for everyone at the club to pull together.

While most of Messi’s threat came in the opposition half there was a notable contribution to shore up Barca’s defence, running himself into the ground to help them cope with having defender Clement Lenglet sent off in the first half.

“We’re so happy that Leo is still with us and the fact he is so motivated is a huge boost for us,” added Roberto.

Coach Ronald Koeman also pointed to Messi’s willingness to sacrifice himself, adding: “Messi worked very hard off the ball tonight which was very important for us tonight.”

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