• La Liga

Messi hits back at media 'lies'

ESPN staff
September 25, 2013
A new Barcelona?

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has hit out at media "lies" about an alleged disagreement between the forward and his manager Gerardo Martino.

It was reported that Messi was frustrated to be hauled off in the 81st minute of Barca's 4-1 demolition of Real Sociedad on Tuesday, after he scored a goal and had a hand in another as the Liga champions continued their 100% record in the league this season.

Claims were made that the Argentina international made a gesture towards Martino following the substitution, but he has used social media to criticise the media for the allegations.

"I didn't mean to make any gesture when Martino took me off. Nobody likes to be out, but we must accept it because it is the best for our team," Messi wrote on his Facebook page.

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

Martino has defended the decision to replace Messi, claiming it was his job to protect the triple Ballon d'Or winner.

"Messi never wants to be subbed off, but it's my task to take care of him," Martino told reporters after the match. "We need him at end of season as well as now."

The victory over Real Sociedad continues the club's unbeaten start to the season in all competitions, and Martino believes the squad he inherited at the start of the campaign is starting to play his style of football.

"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," Martino said.

"We've played a very good game. The way we played in the first half was wonderful - it was a pity we couldn't score more."

Martino then went on to save special praise for summer signing Neymar - the Brazil international scoring his first league goal for the club - and fellow attacker, Alexis Sanchez.

"Neymar is an exceptional player," the Argentine manager said. "It has surprised us how hard he wants to work for the team.

"Alexis didn't score, but he worked very hard today, both in defence and attack. He does things that few forwards do."

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