Former Barcelona winger Isaac Cuenca has defended Lionel Messi’s role in the dressing room and says he could not imagine the club without him.

The 23-year-old, who signed for Deportivo la Coruna last summer after his contract with the Catalans was rescinded, also said he is still grateful to the Blaugrana and holds nothing against them.

“Messi had a voice in the dressing room like any other player, such as [Andres] Iniesta, Xavi [Hernandez], [Victor] Valdes or [Carles] Puyol,” said Cuenca as reported by Marca.

“Of course, he was one of those you had to listen to and learn from, but as for signings and tactics he was just dedicated to playing, which is what he does best.

“He’s quiet and just gets on with the game, like anybody else, and is not someone who speaks more than others. He’s just one more player.

“Messi could play for any top team but I can’t imagine Barca without him. He’s a symbol who has many years ahead of him and makes a difference.

“Personally I’ve no axe to grind with Barcelona as I’m grateful for everything they gave me and I learnt a lot of things.

“I have many friends, it’s the land I love, where I was born and raised.”

Cuenca, who has alternated between the starting line-up and the bench at Riazor this season, comes up against his old club on Sunday and admits he is aware at the size of task Depor face.

“This is a massive match for me and Barca have fantastic players who can do brilliant things with so little space. They are very dangerous with the ball, although anything is possible.

“Right now I wish I’d scored 20 goals, Depor were in the Champions League and we were already safe from relegation.

“But I knew when I came here that we would be battling for safety. However, we’ve grown as a team and have four months to give our all,” he explained.

Tags Cuenca Deportiovo de La Coruna Messi