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Quique Setien has a plan for Lionel Messi in the Champions League

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The captain is the key to success

SSC Napoli v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Quique Setien reportedly has a plan for Lionel Messi when the Champions League resumes next month.

The Catalan giants return with a last-16 second leg against Napoli at the Camp Nou, and if they progress they are likely to meet Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Setien has been analysing Barca’s play and “has reached several conclusions” about how to get the best out of Messi.

Firstly, Setien believes Messi needs to be as “close to the rival area as possible.” The captain has a tendency to drop deep and try to to drive the team forwards but his manager thinks this is actually counterproductive because it can wear him down and leave him lacking freshness in front of goal.

Setien therefore wants his midfielders, and the report names Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig in particular, to make life easier for the captain. Their job will be to feed the strikers with quality passes and look to unbalance the opposition.

The boss thinks the “key” for Barcelona is for Messi to be “decisive in the last 20-25 meters” of the pitch. Setien also wants his captain “to be more selective in his interventions.”

While he appreciates Messi’s willingness to be involved he also believes that it “wears him out,” and Setien knows the 33-year-old will need to conserve his energy if Barcelona are to lift the European Cup at the end of August.