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LIONEL MESSI'S ULTIMATE XI NAMED AS LUIS SUAREZ AND PEDRO INCLUDED IN ATTACK


     Lionel Messi 

We've taken a look at the players Messi has shared a pitch with most often to create the Barcelona and Argentina icon's perfect team - and the most familiar.

For a footballer, it is always important to have confidence in the players that you're entering battle with.

While familiarly can sometimes breed contempt, a team's chemistry is often one of the most crucial and unheralded factors that can make it shine. You can be lost without it.

For instance, how many times have we heard about new signings needing time to settle in? Or a fresh strike partnership having to work on things in training before they begin to hit it off on the pitch?


It helps, then, if you know everything there is to know about your teammates when you are taking to the pitch with them.

Even if you're Lionel Messi.

The rules



The XI is made up of players who made the most appearances alongside our featured player or for our featured manager. We're not looking for an overall 'Best' XI, and the player/manager himself isn't in it.

For a player, the appearance numbers are based on the time they spent on the pitch at the same time as our main man, factoring in both club and international level.
This isn't necessarily the eleven players who've spent the most time on the pitch with/for him, just the eleven that would fit into a working team.
We're not going to come up with a Garth Crooksesque formation, but we might name subs if we feel like it.

All minutes played and appearances stats are courtesy of transfermarkt.co.uk.
Don't get angry in the comments section.
The Barcelona icon has played with some wonderful players down the years, but who did he play with on the most occasions? And what would a team of those players look like?


You may not have asked or even considered those questions before, but you're going to get an answer anyway.

Here's Messi's ultimate teammates XI.
Goalkeeper: Victor Valdes

Appearances alongside Messi: 353

The goalkeeper has played in over 150 more matches with Messi than any other stopper (Image: AFP/Getty Images)


Valdes was part of three Champions League successes and six La Liga titles alongside the Argentinean.
Right-back: Dani Alves

Appearances alongside Messi: 349

Alves is one of the most decorated players in world football (Image: Getty Images)



The Brazilian formed a potent alliance with Messi down the right flank when they played together.
Centre-back: Gerard Pique

Appearances alongside Messi: 471

The pair came through the Barca youth system together (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

After his brief stop-off at Manchester United, Pique returned to Barca and is still part of the furniture there.
Centre-back: Javier Mascherano

Appearances alongside Messi: 413

Mascherano has been by Messi's side for club and country (Image: X90174)



Converted into a centre-back at Barcelona, Mascherano is only one of four players to have played with Messi over 400 times.
Left-back: Jordi Alba

Appearances alongside Messi: 289

Raiding left-back Alba has won five league titles alongside Messi (Image: Getty Images)



The attacking left-back sees off the challenge of a few full-backs to take his place in the side.
Defensive midfield: Sergio Busquets

Appearances alongside Messi: 512

Busquets has been a mainstay of the Barca side (Image: AFP/Getty Images)



Top of the shots. No footballer has played more matches with Messi as a teammate than midfield anchorman Busquets' 512.

The lucky boy.
Midfield: Xavi

Appearances alongside Messi: 399

Xavi comes in fifth in the all-time list (Image: X01904)



Just missing out on the 400 club, Xavi nonetheless did so much in his career that we're sure he'll get over it.
Midfield: Andres Iniesta

Appearances alongside Messi: 489

The pair were often in-sync for Barca (Image: X03813)



Two players capable of operating on the same wavelength, Iniesta was probably the player who created the most while playing alongside Messi, although we don't have the stats for that.
Forward: Pedro

Appearances alongside Messi: 270

Pedro was a reliable squad man for Barca (Image: Getty Images)



No forward player has been on the pitch at the same time as Messi on more occasions than Pedro, who can these days be found at Chelsea after scoring a surely frustrating 99 goals for Barcelona.
Forward: Luis Suarez

Appearances alongside Messi: 245

The pair have struck up a great understanding in their time together (Image: Getty Images)


United at Barca since 2014 when the Uruguayan made the move from Liverpool, the pair have struck up a great partnership on the pitch and a friendship off it.
Forward: Neymar

Appearances alongside Messi: 161

Neymar just scrapes into the team (Image: Getty Images)


There's a spot for Neymar in the side as a forward despite more appearances for other players in other positions, although he could be adding to this number soon...

Subs: Ter Stegen (200), Puyol (269), Adriano (161), Abidal (159), Sergi Roberto (214), Rakitic (266), Keita (161)

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