Lionel Messi Attacks Media After Accusation of Rude Gesture at Barcelona Coach

Matt CheethamCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona reacts after missing a chance to score during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou on September 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has angrily rubbished reports that he made a rude gesture to Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino, after being substituted against Real Sociedad—as John Drayton reports in the Daily Mail.

The incident came with the Catalan giants 4-1 up against their La Liga opponents with 81 minutes on the clock.

Having scored one himself, hit the woodwork and created another goal for Marc Bartra, Messi was withdrawn by Martino in the closing stages. Spanish newspaper AS claimed the decision made Messi unhappy, and caused him to make his feelings known.

However, the four-time Ballon d'Or winner responded on his official Facebook page, branding the reports "media lies," per Drayton.

Nobody likes to be replaced, but we must accept it because it is the best for our team.

What I will not accept is that certain media tell lies about any situation that happens around me.

Messi has never appeared especially enthusiastic about leaving the fieldas with most top playersand he has rarely been substituted during the past few seasons.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 05:  Substitute Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks on from the bench during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis Balompie at Camp Nou on May 5, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

In 54 appearances last year, he departed prematurely in just four games, mostly as an injury precaution.

The season before, in 2011/12, during 78 appearances for club and country—across eight different competitions—amazingly, Messi was never substituted, as per Transfermarkt.

Fast forward to this current season and it's a different story entirely, with Messi withdrawn three times during the eight games he's played. A far higher percentage than in any of the previous yearsalbeit at a very early stage.

Martino previously went on record in August, as reported by Yahoo, saying he will not continually substitute Messi, but claimed the Argentine will need to be rested throughout the season.

Miles Chambers of Goal reveals Martino's quotes to reporters after the game:

Messi never wants to be subbed off, but it's my task to take care of him. We need him at end of season as well as now. My way of thinking won't change, I repeated the whole time how I want to play, maybe this game helps some to see things clearer.

Quite clearly Martino intends to restrict the time Messi spends on the pitch when a result is already wrapped up.

Having suffered a hamstring injury at a crucial phase of last season, this is a situation the Barca coach doesn't want to see repeated—although he will have his hands full convincing Messi.