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Ernesto Valverde has insisted Lionel Messi could succeed anywhere in world football after his double earned Barcelona a 2-0 win over local rivals Espanyol at the Nou Camp.

The home side had dominated proceedings although they lacked a cutting edge, until Messi stepped up. His delicate close-range freekick found the back of the net which gave Barca the lead after 70 minutes, then on the verge of injury time he made sure of all three points by grabbing his and Barca's second goal of the game.

His double ensured a 2-0 win for the Blaugrana and temporarily extended their lead at the top of the La Liga table to 13 points. The goals also ensured Messi has now scored 40 goals in each of his last 10 seasons with Barcelona.

Speaking in his press conference after the game, via, Valverde was full of praise for his star man and claimed Messi would be the same even if he played in Australia. He said: "Messi would be the same playing in Australia. I do not enter into things with his country.

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"I can only say that, for me, it's a luxury to coach him. We try to make him happy and content, because that makes him much better."

Barca will be hoping to close out their La Liga campaign in style with the league title, but with nine games left to play there is still plenty of work to do for Messi and company to fight off the resistance of Atletico Madrid and take home their fifth successive league title.