MESSI WAS INVOLVED IN A DRESSING ROOM SPAT WITH MANCITY PERSOONEL AT ETIHAD

Sergio Aguero played the role of peacemaker to diffuse a tunnel incident involving Lionel Messi after Manchester City’s victory over Barcelona.

The striker, an international team-mate and close friend of the Ballon d’Or winner, stepped in to calm his fellow Argentine down in the aftermath of City’s 3-1 success in the Champions League.

Spanish media suggested an altercation took place as the two teams left the Etihad Stadium pitch, with a City player making a remark to Messi which led to the Barca man calling him an ‘imbecile’.

Messi then shouted ‘stupid, stupid, come here!’ outside the home dressing room as someone inside mocked him, prior to Aguero’s intervention.

Barcelona matchday delegate Carlos Naval picked up the baton, shouting: ‘Show your face’ to the unidentified voice.

Aguero, however, suggested it was a heat-of-the-moment incident and played down its significance.

‘Whenever you lose you’re not very happy,’ the City forward said.

‘I saw him there, he was feeling bad. I know him well enough to know when he’s bad, when he’s good. But when you lose, nobody’s good.

‘I thought Messi said something to me but he didn’t, and then we talked about other stuff. It was nothing serious. I heard something but I don’t know what happened.

‘When someone loses you have to respect them. Leo wasn’t in the mood to talk and I respect that.’

City deny an incident involving Messi took place, while Fernandinho has been forced to formally reject claims that it was he who mocked the world’s best player.

‘I don’t know where the rumours and discussion about my role in the provocation of Messi came from,’ he said in a statement posted on social media.

I just want to say that the rumours that are circulating in the media are absurd: I didn’t even have contact with any Barcelona players or technical staff after the game.

‘Instigating and provoking are not in my nature, bearing in mind that I put a lot of importance on showing respect both on and off the pitch, regardless of the opposition or player in question.’

The hosts secured an impressive victory over Barca despite falling behind to Messi’s strike midway through the first half.

Ilkay Gundogan levelled before the break and Kevin De Bruyne’s excellent free-kick sent City in front. Gundogan struck again late on to add gloss to the win.

Although reports emerging today state It was Pep Guardiola’s assistant Mikel Arteta who provoked Lionel Messi’s furious reaction in the tunnel of the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, according to Spanish radio station La Cope.

The station reported that while Messi was waiting outside the referee’s room Arteta said: ‘Anda tontorrón, vete y métete en tu vestuario,’ which translates to: ‘Move along stupid, get yourself in your dressing room.’

Messi was already fuming at Barcelona’s first group-stage defeat in the Champions League in two years and reacted, shouting back: ‘Bobo, vení y da la cara!’, a sort of: ‘come over here and say that to my face, stupid’.
Not since Battle of the Buffet between Arsenal and Manchester United in October 2004 has there been such a tunnel ‘whodunnit’.

Arteta has now emerged as the Cesc Fabregas figure in this incident although other suspects have included Fernandinho and also a lower profile member of City’s backroom staff.

Fernandinho quickly responded to rumours surrounding his involvement in the incident and took to social media to distance himself from any role in the altercation.

‘I just want to say that the rumours that are circulating in the media are absurd: I didn’t even have contact with any Barcelona players or technical staff after the game,’ he posted on Twitter.
‘Instigating and provoking are not in my nature, bearing in mind that I put a lot of importance on showing respect both on and off the pitch, regardless of the opposition or player in question.’

Messi’s reaction would point to it being someone of profile, and someone fluent in Spanish. The Argentine was calmed down by international team-mate Sergio Aguero and left to contemplate how his seventh goal in just three appearances in the Champions League this season counted for nothing.

Messi has now scored 54 goals in group games – a new record surpassing Raul’s previous best of 53.

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