Pique stresses importance of Messi

IANS| Updated: Dec 31, 2013, 12:04 PM IST

Madrid: FC Barcelona`s Spain international defender Gerard Pique stressed the importance of the injured Leo Messi to the side when he addressed the press on Monday.

Messi is putting the finishing touches to his recovery from a hamstring injury at the moment, but after being out of action for a month, he is expected to be back in action early in the New Year, reported Xinhua.

The fact is that Barca have performed well without their star player with new signing Neymar and Pedro Rodriguez taking on the mantel of goal scorers in recent matches, but for Pique, there is no doubt who is still top dog at the Camp Nou Stadium.

"Messi is the best player in the world and from that standpoint, it is obvious that he is important for us and I am certain that presence or not in the side is an influence," said Pique.

"We have been able to live without him (Messi) in the time he has been out, but if you want to win titles, you need to have all of your players in condition and even more if we are talking about the best player in the world," he added.

"We are lucky to have him in the side and we know he gives us a lot," said the central defender, who also welcomed the imminent returns of Victor Valdes and midfielder, Xavi Hernandez.

"It`s good for the team to have all of the players available for the coach. That means there is more competition for places and we all play better," he commented.

Pique also looked back on the season to date in which Barca may have not been at their best, but are top of the Primera Liga, while they qualified with few problems for the knockout stage of the Champions League, where they will face Manchester City.

Meanwhile Barca have progressed with ease into the last 16 of the Spanish Copa del Rey, where they are in the easier half of the draw.

"The team is well positioned in all of the competitions, I think the play has improved and we are going to try and win everything," said Pique, who added that he didn`t see "so much uncertainty" about the side`s performances during the first half of the campaign.

"We are Barcelona," he said, admitting that although the draw against Manchester City was complicated, "we will give everything, just as we always do".