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Lionel Messi considered key in Man Utd manager hunt as Ernesto Valverde ‘talks’ underway

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Lionel Messi is set to play a key role in Manchester United’s search for a manager, reports say. United are claimed to have opened talks with Messi’s former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde. Spaniard Valverde has been added to a long list of managers to have been linked with the Old Trafford job.

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino is the favourite to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the Norwegian’s sacking on Sunday.

However, United are looking at alternatives if they cannot prise the Argentine away from PSG until next summer.

Zinedine Zidane, Brendan Rodgers, Erik ten Hag and Luis Enrique have all been linked with United.

But the Red Devils are looking for an interim and former Barca boss Valverde has been identified as a candidate.

Man Utd news: Lionel Messi played under Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona (Image: GETTY)

The Guardian claims United have held talks with Valverde regarding their vacancy.

And the report says United believe Valverde’s history of managing a superstar like Messi will make it easy for him to be in charge of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo returned to United in the summer after 12 years at Real Madrid and Juventus.

Valverde managed Barca between 2017 and 2020, winning two La Liga titles.

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Messi won the last of his six Ballon d’Or trophies during Valverde’s reign at the Nou Camp.

There were talks of a bust-up between Messi and Valverde during their time together but both parties have played down those reports since.

And the Argentina superstar was full of praise for Valverde after his departure.

Messi said: “[Valverde was] not just a great coach but a great person.

Man Utd news: United haven’t won a trophy since 2017 (Image: EXPRESS)

“There were certain matches when it was us [the players] who were more at fault than him. It’s easier to sack the coach than change the players.”

Valverde has also explained how easy he found it to coach a player of Messi’s calibre.

“Messi can’t be compared with anyone,” Valverde said.

“It’s very difficult to tell him if ‘you’ve seen this or another player’ when he does things in training that you haven’t seen.

“Many times, from the touchline, you’re always thinking what can be the best option and, ultimately, he sees it much better than you from on the pitch.

“Messi is a very easy player to coach because he also has a great impulse with respect to the team.

“He has a great ambition to win, he always feels such an obligation to the game as for the club. He transmits that to the group and it forces everyone to be at a higher level.”

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