Marco Verratti Says Lionel Messi 'Doesn't Get Punished' for Dissent to Officials

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2018

TOPSHOT - Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (R) vies with Paris Saint-Germain's Italian midfielder Marco Verratti during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona on February 14, 2017 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. / AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)
CHRISTOPHE SIMON/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti has suggested Barcelona star Lionel Messi receives preferential treatment from referees and "doesn't get punished" for the same acts as some players. 

Verratti let his emotions get the better of him and was sent off in the second leg of his side's UEFA Champions League last-16 meeting with Real Madrid for a show of dissent. However, he told La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t ESPN FC's Ben Gladwell) Messi gets special treatment:

"I got it wrong against Real, but it was a red card out of frustration and sometimes referees could be more tolerant.

"It was a bad reaction, but I didn't insult anybody, whereas Messi goes around pointing his finger in the referee's face and doesn't even get punished. But anyway, I need to improve."

Verratti was already on a yellow card when he felt he was fouled by Mateo Kovacic in Real's half. When no foul was given, the Italian stormed to protest to official Felix Brych and was given a second caution.

Messi usually holds a reputation as one of the calmer personas among the stars of world football, but ESPN's Samuel Marsden attested to his frustrations showing in the 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday:

Verratti also went on to say speculation that his agent, Mino Raiola, has offered him to Barcelona is "a lie," insisting he has goals to achieve at the Parc des Princes.

The Italian's suggestions might perhaps be received better from someone without such a chequered disciplinary record, per The Independent:

Barcelona recently defeated Chelsea 4-1 on aggregate to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals, but it was in their round-of 16 meeting with the Blues that Messi was reported to have shown dissent.

According to ESPN (h/t Calciomercato.com), it was during the second leg at the Camp Nou that referee Damir Skomina was said to have told Messi to "shut up" and stop arguing. Messi is alleged to have replied, saying: "Don't speak badly to me, I didn't disrespect you, did I?”

Messi has only been sent off once in his professional career, when he was shown red just 40 seconds into his Argentina debut in August 2005 for lashing out at an opponent who tugged his shirt.

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