Messi has a long-standing relationship with Vilanova, dating back to his days in the La Maisa youth academy at Barca.
The Argentine forward told El Pais that Vilanova has been a major influence throughout his career.
Messi said: "Tito was the first person who had faith in me, because at the time I was a substitute or didn't play, and he was the one who made me starter in that category (Under-16s).
"I know him well, he's open. He tells you things to your face without any type of problem, I like this."
Messi has 10 goals in all competition so far this season, helping Barca get off to a 100% start in La Liga and build an eight-point lead over reigning champions Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.