During his tenure at Camp Nou, Guardiola always admitted that Messi made the difference. “Without him, we would be competitive,” he often said. “But we wouldn’t have achieved all that we have.”

However, he had played his part in the Argentine’s astronomical rise to become the world’s finest footballer. Before Pep’s arrival as coach in 2008, Messi was fantastic yet fragile, mesmerising but also inconsistent. And his best return in front of goal was 17 over a single season.

In 2008-09, that changed dramatically. Messi looked fitter, faster and hungrier in a spectacular season in which he helped Barca to the treble and netted 38 goals along the way. “I play closer to the area now,” he would say. But it was much more than that. Pep paid attention to every detail of Leo’s game – and made him the best player in the world.