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Barcelona stars ‘must adapt to Messi’ and play to his strengths after SIX games without goal in open play, warns De Jong

LIONEL MESSI has gone six games without a goal in open play - and team-mate Frenkie De Jong says it's down to his Barcelona team-mates to resolve the crisis.

The Argentine maestro has scored just twice in the Catalans' first six matches this season - both from dead balls.

De Jong, 23, says it is a team effort and his colleagues must play to Messi's strengths in order to help him recover from his recent slump in form.

Speaking to Uefa.com, he said: "You try to get him into the best positions to make a difference and I think we need to adapt to him. When he is receiving the ball in a position where he can make the difference, he will make it for you, always."

And the Dutchman is adamant that Messi is one of the best players in the world despite the goals drying up.

He added: "When you have Messi in your team, of course you have the best player in the world in your team."

The recent struggles follow a summer of turmoil in which Messi tried to quit the club before making a U-turn because he didn't want to drag his beloved club through the courts.

In addition, Messi, 33, has struggled to fit into Ronald Koeman's new 4-2-3-1 system.

It has been reported that the main reason the manager has changed the formation is to fit in Philippe Coutinho who has been given a second chance at the Nou Camp after being sent on loan to Bayern Munich last term.

Koeman has acknowledged Messi's form could be better, but he refuses to drop his star man.

The Barca boss said: "Maybe, at the moment, Messi's performances could be better.

"But he is happy, he is working hard and he wants to be the captain. I don't have a single complaint.

"He has also had some bad luck. He hit the post (in a 1-0 loss to Getafe) and on another day that goes in.

"I don't have any doubts about his performances and we're going to see him (at his best) in the upcoming games, I'm sure."

Eyebrows were raised as Messi cut a forlorn figure in his side's 3-1 loss to fierce rivals Real Madrid on the weekend.

He had very little impact in the match and his biggest contribution was the yellow card he received for a ruthless lunge on Federico Valverde.

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