Barcelona coach Luis Enrique praises 'quality' right-back Sergi Roberto
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has said he believes there is no better right-back than Sergi Roberto after the converted midfielder produced another fine performance in the 5-0 win at Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
After a week in which Catalan outlet Diario Sport linked Barca with a move for Arsenal's Hector Bellerin, Roberto created two goals at El Molinon and played a huge part in a third.
"I watch a lot of games and I don't see any better right-back than Roberto," Luis Enrique said in his postgame news conference. "At least not for Barcelona, who always have the ball.
"I'm delighted that he feels good in that position, although he can play in the midfield roles, too. He's capable of beating a man and passing with real quality."
Having developed as a central midfielder, Roberto said he was relishing the challenge of a new role.
"I'm enjoying myself more each time I play there," the 24-year-old told reporters in the mixed zone. "I'm growing familiar with the new role and learning, both in an attacking and a defensive sense. I'm happy, definitely."
Neymar also impressed, scoring twice as Barca began a three-week spell without the injured Lionel Messi in comfortable fashion.
There were also goals for Luis Suarez, Rafinha and Arda Turan, although Luis Enrique felt the scoreline flattered his side, who took full advantage of playing the final 15 minutes against 10 men.
"The final result was deceptive," he said. "It looks easy, but that was not the case. Not at all. The game was not over until the red card [for Alberto Lora].
"It is always difficult to win away from home given the dangers which come with it, especially at Sporting, who play with a lot of intensity.
"Fortunately we were able to create chances and score a couple of goals before the break, but we struggled to get involved in the play in the second half."
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.