Manchester City will have to contend with the greatest footballer in history when they face Lionel Messi and Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, according to Gerard Pique.
The Barca centre-back is under no illusions as to the immense quality and standing of his team-mate and has warned City that even if the Argentine was not ready to start following his recovery from injury, his mere presence at Camp Nou would spur the Spanish title-holders on regardless.
Messi had been suffering with a groin problem but is expected to start after making a goal-scoring comeback off the bench in the second half of Saturday's 4-0 hammering of Deportivo La Coruna.
And Pique feels there is no guaranteed way of halting the 29-year-old.
"Ask Pep [Guardiola]. Messi is the best in the world," he told reporters. "His mere presence is a difference-maker.
"Leo looks good [injury wise]. He's the best in the world, the best in history in my opinion."
Pique also defended Messi from criticism regarding the star forward's inability to lead Argentina to international honours.
"But Argentina doesn't win everything," he added. "It's not just him.
"We all have to play well. But he does make a difference."