Jose Mourinho has no doubt winning matches is easier with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in a team, but insists a team’s mentality takes precedence over any individual player.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has won a staggering 26 trophies during his senior career with Barca, including four Champions League titles.
The Catalan giants are on course to reach the quarter-finals of the Europe’s premier club competition for the ninth straight season, heading into their last-16 second leg against Arsenal at Camp Nou on Wednesday with a 2-0 aggregate advantage.
Mourinho believes Messi, who scored both goals in the first leg at the Emirates Stadium, will likely prove the difference maker as Barca look to become the first side to successfully defend the Champions League trophy.
“First of all it’s about individual players. Just to give you an example, Messi won the Champions League with three different managers,” he said in an interview with BT Sport.
“I think it’s easier to win with him, than against him. I am a football manager. I know that sometimes people think that the individual is more important than the team.
“But when I feel that it is time for me to take a permanent holiday – I still think that the team is more important than anything.
“But the obvious reality is that there are some players who can make a difference.”
Mourinho has been without a club since he left Chelsea in December and hopes to return to work ahead of next season.
“Yes I was lucky enough to have good options since I left Chelsea in December – not just options but good options,” the Portuguese added.
“But I made a decision to wait calmly. The reality is that I want to work. July, mid-July, new pre-season starts and somewhere, I want to be there.”