Lionel Messi is the perfect partner to have in attack thanks to all the opposition attention that he draws in, according to fellow Barcelona team-mate Ousmane Dembele.
The Argentina and France internationals have sparked a successful connection up front during the latter’s second season at Camp Nou, netting 43 goals between them in all comepeitions.
The one-time Borussia Dortmund man has arguably now filled the gap left by Neymar, after the Brazilian departed for Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 in a desired attempt to break free of Messi’s shadow.
Dembele, in contrast however, is more than happy for his captain to occupy the burden of responsibility against teams.
“It’s great, he makes football easier,” he told Barca’s website.
“I give him the ball and he does incredible things. When he’s on the pitch it’s easier for a forward, because the rivals focus mainly on him.”
Both Messi and Dembele will likely have major roles to play for Ernesto Valverde’s side when the Blaugrana visit Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.
Bruno Genesio’s men advanced undefeated through Group F and have recorded impressive victories over Premier League leaders Manchester City and Ligue 1 table-toppers PSG this term.
Ex-Rennes winger Dembele warned: “They’re a team with very good players and it’s very difficult to win there.
“They demonstrated this season – winning against City and PSG – that we will have to be very attentive and not think that the game will be easy.
“[Nabil] Fekir – suspended for the first leg – is their best player, but there are other players who have great qualities, and we’ll have to watch everyone.
“I look closely at their Ligue 1 matches, and I play alongside some of their players in the French national team like Fekir, [Ferland] Mendy or Moussa Dembele. They are dangerous all over the pitch.”
Barca remain in the hunt to win the treble and Dembele encouraged his team-mates to fight on as many fronts as possible, though he acknowledges that they need to be immediately occupied with getting the results first.
“We have to be focused on our goals,” the 21-year-old said. “We want to win titles, win the Champions League and also the league, of course!”