Quique Setien praised Ivan Rakitic after the midfielder scored the winner in Barcelona's 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday.
Rakitic netted in the 71st minute to lift Barca back to the top of the table, three points clear of rivals Real Madrid.
The Croatian's future has been talked about in recent months but Barcelona coach Setien hailed his impact after the midfielder came off the bench in the second half.
"He came in in the second half for the Busi [Sergio Busquets] card. He has done it frankly well," he told Movistar.
"He understands football very well. He has placed himself well, has stolen balls and has joined a definitive action.
"I am very happy for him."
Since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break, Barca have collected 10 points from four games and are yet to concede a goal.
Setien was happier with his side's second-half display, praising substitutes Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig for their performances.
"In the first half we were not precise with the ball. We had losses, it was difficult for us to recover the ball after loss," he said.
"I have seen the second half calmer. The entrance of Ansu and Riqui has given us dynamism … they have given us a longer possession.
"I am happy with the second half. And the first half we can improve."
Barcelona's busy run of fixtures continues with a trip to Celta Vigo on Saturday.