?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has stated that he always planned to bring match-winner Lionel Messi on during the club’s 1-0 triumph over Levante on Saturday evening.
The Catalans claimed their eighth La Liga title in 11 years courtesy of the victory, nine points now separating them from second-placed Atletico Madrid. Messi was brought on for Philippe Coutinho at half-time with the scores level, breaking the deadlock shortly after the hour with an ice-cool side-footed finish into the far corner.
It appeared that the Argentine forward would be rested this weekend, with ?La Blaugrana welcoming ?Liverpool to the Nou Camp on Wednesday night for the first leg of their ?Champions League semi-final clash.
However, Valverde has insisted that Messi’s introduction was decided before the ?La Liga fixture with Levante had begun. Asked whether his hand was forced regarding the 31-year-old’s appearance off the bench, the coach declared (as quoted by the ?Evening Standard): “
Valverde could not hide his joy at the addition of yet more silverware to the Barcelona trophy cabinet, the Spaniard exulting in his team’s impressive achievement. He continued: “