Lionel Messi: FC Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde concedes LaLiga champions have 'Messidependence'

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Messi, 31, netted his sixth direct free-kick of the season in an eight-goal thriller against Villarreal on Tuesday evening - which inspired a late comeback in the 4-4 draw at the Estadio de la Cerámica.

Trailing 4-2 in the 90th minute, the Argentina international, who was introduced on the hour mark, sparked the comeback which saw Luis Suarez equalise with the last kick of the game.

Valverde opted to rest the club-record goalscorer ahead of Saturday’s visit of second-placed Atletico Madrid, which is followed by a UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United.

"It would exist in any team in the world, but when he is not there we also have to play and try to win.

"Leo is fundamental for us and marks the style, it is well known that he is the best in the world for something."

Messi has now scored 42 goals and registered 21 assists in 42 games across all competitions.