Lionel Messi has discounted any rumours that he is unhappy with the way he's been utilised by Gerardo Martino during the manager's first few months at Barcelona.
The Argentinian international is currently suffering from a hamstring problem that could see him out of action until early 2014. Sky Sports confirmed the injury via Twitter:
Messi's injury has been blamed on several factors, including the distance he travels for sponsorship commitments in addition to international duty, per Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail.
He has also been substituted more regularly by Martino this season, disturbing his rhythm of playing 90 minutes week in, week out.
While I feel good, I will play whatever is necessary. I do not have to put limits on myself. I know when the coach wants to take me off, he will take me off, and that’s fine. There is no need to look for things which are not there.
Everything that has been said are just inventions... I am not the only one who plays many games in a season… Everyone in La Liga does it. And [the travel] ... those games during the holidays are just fun without any pressure. We get together, we help with some social issue. I enjoy it. There is no need to look for strange things. There is no need to change.
One might understand the superstar's frustration if he were to reveal a more emotional reaction, especially considering Cristiano Ronaldo's continuing success in his absence.
Not that Messi's achievements so far this campaign are by any means small, but the South American's tally of 14 goals and four assists in 16 matches pales in comparison to Ronaldo's record of 24 goals and seven assists in his last 17 club outings.
Martino may still be acclimating to his new role as Blaugrana boss, but there can be no arguing that the former Newell's Old Boys manager has gotten off to a fine start in his La Liga career.
Barcelona have dropped just two points in their first 13 league matches under the Argentinian and have already qualified for the knockout phases of this season's Champions League.
Messi has played the full 90 minutes in 10 of his 16 matches this season, but one can't blame Martino for wanting to preserve his finest asset. Barcelona's success as a club supersedes any individual aspirations, no matter how talented that individual may be.
With the player having spoken on the matter himself, Messi would appear to be as happy as ever to do what's best for his team, something the club can look forward to upon seeing their star return from his winter absence.