Barcelona increased its lead of the Spanish league to a commanding 11 points after Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored late goals in a 2-0 win over 10-man Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Sergio Busquets has saluted the “unique” skills of Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi, with the Argentine continuing to amaze with his level of consistency.

The 2018-19 campaign is shaping up to be another productive one for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, with the 40-goal mark passed for a 10th successive season.

He has also edged above Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas to become the player with the most La Liga victories, with Barca closing on that title once more while also pursuing Copa del Rey and Champions League crowns.

Messi will be expected to continue leading those charges, with those around him at Camp Nou no longer surprised by his ability to transfer jaw-dropping moments of magic on the training field to the heat of competitive action.

Busquets, who has enjoyed a trophy-laden spell alongside a fellow La Masia academy graduate, told the Daily Mail of Messi’s mercurial talent: “We have the good fortune to train with him every day.

“I’ve spent the last 11 years with him, so you get that greater concentration of him doing these things.

“We’re not quite as surprised by it all. There isn’t a goal he’s scored on the pitch that we haven’t seen in training and he’s also repeating goals he has scored in previous seasons. He is unique.”

While on-field majesty is now expected of Messi, Busquets concedes his revelation during pre-season that the Champions League would be prioritised this term did come as a shock to many.

The World Cup-winning midfielder added: “We didn’t know he was going to say that.

“But all clubs want to do well in the Champions League don’t they? It’s the most prestigious trophy there is and it is even more important for us after having not won it for so many years.”

Messi’s quest to conquer Europe for a fifth time is being aided by the likes of fellow frontman Luis Suarez.

Busquets said of the Uruguayan: “It’s not just his goals but all that he brings to the team.

“The pressure he puts on defences, the way he holds the ball up, the way he battles with rival defences, all that gives us so much.”

Barca are fortunate to be working with another star-studded squad, but Busquets admits to missing two iconic figures who have moved on to pastures new – Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

“Of course I do,” he said of two all-time greats now at Al Sadd and Vissel Kobe respectively.

“They are once-in-a-lifetime players, and I spent so many years with them. We complemented each other well and we came from La Masia, which makes it even more special.

“We could understand each other with just a look. The opponent didn’t know what we were going to do but we knew with just a glance. That was a huge advantage.

“We’d been through the same things, come up through the youth team, had a friendship on a personal level. It will be very difficult for another midfield like that one to emerge from La Masia.”

Barca’s class of 2019 will be back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Old Trafford for the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final clash with Manchester United.

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