The two sides met in the UEFA Champions League at the Etihad Stadium, with City coming from behind to secure a memorable 3-1 victory. Afterwards, it was claimed by La Sexta (h/t AS) that Arteta had called Messi an “arseh--e” after the contest.
However, it’s been reported by Onda Cero (h/t Adriana Garcia of ESPN FC) that the former Barcelona midfielder, appointed to the coaching staff of manager Pep Guardiola in the summer, has denied the claims.
In the report it’s noted that Arteta did not want to be quoted, and he was dismayed at being linked to the alleged altercation. However, the former Arsenal playmaker is said to have suggested that Messi spoke to him in a derogatory manner during an exchange after the game but stated he did not insult the Argentina international.
City midfielder Fernandinho also denied reports after the game that he’d insulted Messi with a post on social media, labelling the suggestions as “absurd.”
In a frenetic game, Messi opened the scoring for Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium, finishing well at the end of a sweeping move by the Blaugrana. However, City surged back into the contest with two goals from Ilkay Gundogan either side of a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick, giving the team a famous victory.
Despite his apparent frustration during the game and after the match, the Barcelona forward continues to excel in the Champions League, as we can see courtesy of the competition’s official Twitter feed:
During his playing days Arteta wasn’t renowned for his spikiness. Indeed, during his time at Arsenal, Everton and Real Sociedad he earned a reputation for being a smooth operator with the ball at his feet, as well as a player who would lead by example.
The midfielder, now 34, retired from the game at the end of the previous season when his contract with the Gunners expired.