Martin Braithwaite has lavished praise on his Barcelona teammates including Lionel Messi ahead of La Liga’s imminent return.
The 29-year-old arrived at the Camp Nou in controversial circumstances back in February.
Despite their significant financial resources, Barça were awarded special dispensation to bring the forward in from relegation-threatened Leganes outside of the transfer window following the injury of Ousmane Dembele.
The deal was criticised further when Braithwaite’s former side were blocked from bringing in a replacement in a similar manner.
The Dane only made three appearances for Quique Setien’s side before Spanish football was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 outbreak back in March. Despite this limited game time, the former Middlesbrough man has admitted that he’s been blown away by Messi’s mesmerising talent since joining the Catalan giants.
“If football’s a religion, he’s its God,” Braithwaite told the Guardian’s Sid Lowe in a recent interview. “Messi takes attention away. People forget to look at what’s happening around him because he’s such a threat.
“There’s space and we have to understand how to exploit that. Then when you do, [opponents] realise ‘these guys are making runs: watch out’ and then you’re giving space to Messi. It’s about intelligence.”
Braithwaite was similarly effusive in his praise for Luis Suarez, who is set to return to the Barcelona team after recovering from knee surgery.
“I was really excited to play with Luis Suárez, too,” he admitted. “He was injured but now he’s back and I’m looking at him: how he moves. I ask questions, I’m learning. The knowledge these players have is priceless.”
Barcelona’s La Liga campaign resumes on Saturday when they travel to Mallorca. They currently top the table by two points over their Clásico rivals Real Madrid, whose first game back is against relegation threatened Eibar.