Andres Iniesta believes Lionel Messi is "fundamental" to the future of Barcelona and hopes his team-mate resides at the Camp Nou for many years to come.
Both players are rightfully regarded as living legends in the Blaugrana's history, but while Iniesta's influence is waning, Messi continues to set the marker. Iniesta—whose quiet, thoughtful manner is replicated on the pitch—recently highlighted the importance of Messi's presence to FIFA.com:
I hope and wish that Leo can be with Barça for a long time, because he has been, is and will be fundamental to our competing for honours. That’s my sole desire.
[...] We are out to win everything we can and have a lot to look forward to. We’ve got a great team and the disappointment of last year has to be a motivation for us to show our true colours and try to end this season with a smile on our faces and our fans celebrating a title once more.
Messi's hat-trick against Levante only added to an incredible record for the Catalan side, per Sky Sports:
Neymar, his team-mate, also highlighted what it's like to play alongside one of the sport's greats, per B/R UK:
Messi looks to have bounced back from his Ballon d'Or snub in impressive style. He has scored 13 and assisted seven in the 11 games since the turn of the year, taking his total to 37 and 15 respectively this season, per WhoScored.com.
For a man who was linked to Premier League sides including Chelsea and Manchester United during the January transfer window, he remains incredibly focused. He is still Barca's driving force and a player Luis Enrique can rely on.
Barcelona are currently one point behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid. With Cristiano Ronaldo only netting three and receiving a red card since the division's post-Christmas return, it's Messi and his colleagues who are gaining momentum.
Los Blancos' recent loss to Atletico Madrid ensures Enrique's men have a real chance of capturing the title which eluded them last year. With Messi hitting form at the right time, Barca are looking more impressive as the weeks roll by.