Lionel Messi has admitted one regret over Philippe Coutinho's £142m January transfer to Barcelona from Liverpool, lamenting the fact that the Brazilian couldn't join the club when he first asked to six months earlier. 

The ex-Anfield man will now be unavailable for the Catalan giants' Champions League campaign, which sees them face Chelsea in the round of 16 after topping their group ahead of Juventus. 

Quoted by the Mirror ahead of a Sunday night game against Alaves, Messi said: "In our case both Coutinho and Yerry [Mina] already tried to bring the club to the summer market and it could not be. Now they have come in the winter, and we are happy that they are with us, although others, like [Javier] Mascherano, have left."

The Argentine also spoke about Ernesto Valverde's rotation policies after Thursday night saw them sneak past Espanyol in the Copa del Rey, overcoming a first leg deficit to progress 2-1 on aggregate into a semi-final against Valencia. 

“The coach decides," Messi said. "I speak to him often and I have no problem in rotating, like my other teammates. Luckily, things are going well and we passed a tough test against Espanyol.

We're happy about how things are going, although there is a lot left to play for."

Messi and co appear to have La Liga more or less sewn up with four months of the season left to play, sitting 11 points clear of closest rivals Atletico Madrid and 19 points ahead of last season's champions Real Madrid, who have just a single game in hand.