Arsene Wenger hails ‘art’ of Barcelona’s Messi, Suarez and Neymar – as Arsenal suffer Champions League elimination

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline at Barcelona

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline at Barcelona - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Arsene Wenger was magnanimous in defeat after hailing a Barcelona side that knocked his team out of the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Arsenal players leave the field dejected after the final whistle beyond Barcelona's Lionel Messi

The Arsenal players leave the field dejected after the final whistle beyond Barcelona's Lionel Messi (foreground) (Nick Potts/PA Wire) - Credit: EMPICS Sport

As the Gunners slipped to a 3-1 defeat on the night – making it a 5-1 mauling on aggregate by Luis Enrique’s men who are now unbeaten in their last 38 matches – the Frenchman was generous in his assessment of the Catalan giants.

With Barca earning their ninth win in a row – while also qualifying for the quarter finals for the ninth season running – Wenger was effusive in his praise of the side from the Nou Camp.

Speaking about their world-class attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and former Arsenal target Luis Suarez he said: “In the final third, Barcelona’s passing accuracy and creativity was exceptional.

“At some stage in our sport we must admire art – and the three of them change normal life into art.

“We played against a team who has the best strikers I have seen – the three of them together are absolutely exceptional.

“From nothing, they can create a chance, especially Messi. He didn’t miss a first touch, no matter where the ball came from.

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“I respect that and I believe it’s a pleasure as well – but for me it is also suffering.”

However the under fire Arsenal boss insisted after Gunners midfielder Mohamed Elneny netted an equaliser early in the second half, Barca struggled.

The under-fire boss who has seen a double cup exit in the space of four days explained: “I felt at 1-1 they were wobbling and insecure.

“But we could not take our chance to score the second goal to put ourselves in a good position.

“We created plenty of dangerous situations and the quality of our game was good.

“When we lost the second goal, we lost the edge. They are an exceptional side.”

Barca supremo Luis Enrique said: “It is obvious we have unique players.

“We have players on their day can solve many situations.

“Yet I believe the importance of this team is these players also work as a team both offensively and defensively.”

While full-back Dani Alves added to the praise of the Messi, Suarez Neymar trident afterwards: “They’re unique players.

“You only have to listen to what the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said about them at the end of the match”.

The defender also expressed his annoyance at Real Madrid’s involvement while Neymar’s contract negotiations have yet to be finalised saying: “Real Madrid want everyone. We’re happy at Barça and we don’t need to be thinking about those things.

“They do it to distract us, but I don’t think there’s any point coming out and defending yourself on these things”.

Speaking about his own future he said simply: “I‘ll just say that I’ll be missed the day I leave”.

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