Messi seeks help to combat sickness
Lionel Messi has been to specialists to resolve the issue which has seen him vomit on the pitch during games, according to Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino.
Messi was captured by TV cameras retching early in Argentina’s 0-0 draw with Romania on Wednesday, recalling similar incidents during an August 2011 Barcelona against Real Madrid Supercopa tie, and also at a World Cup qualifier at altitude in Bolivian capital La Paz in March 2013.
The Blaugrana attacker said after this week’s game that it was just something which happened to him sometimes, not a big problem. However his club coach told a news conference after training at Barca’s Ciutat Esportiva on Friday morning that it was ‘not normal’ for the issue to re-occur, even if it did not affect Messi’s performance on the pitch.
“It happens to him habitually,” Martino said. “He has been to see specialists, who have not been able to solve it, but it is not anything alarming. It is not something normal, but it does not affect his work at all.”
Martino was speaking ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game at Real Valladolid, where a Barca win will send them back to the top of the Primera Division standings, at least until Real Madrid host Levante on Sunday evening.
The ‘FIFA virus’ which has seen La Liga’s big two drop points when players return from international duty was not a primary concern, the Argentine coach said.
“The game concerns me because of the opponent, who are fighting towards the bottom of the table and have only lost two games at home all season,” Martino said. “It is true that this has been a short week, and the players have arrived very late. We have just spoken about the game today, but there are no excuses. We must play a good game and win.”
Barca’s latest arrivals were Brazil pair Neymar and Daniel Alves, but both trained as normal Friday morning and have been included in an 18-man squad for the game along with centre-half Gerard Pique, who returns after two weeks out with a hamstring issue.
Pique’s long-term partner in the middle of Barcelona’s defence Carles Puyol has not been named in the squad for the game, the first since the 35-year-old announced he was leaving the club at the end of the current season, due to a calf injury. Jordi Alba, Ibrahim Afellay and Alex Song have also been left out ‘for technical reasons’, while Barca B goalkeeper Oier Olazabal is called up as regular back-up Jose Pinto has a back problem.
Martino nevertheless hailed the influence of Puyol during his 16 years in the Barca first team.
“I believe some players are irreplaceable, from any point of view,” Tata said. “I am not the best placed to comment, as I have only been here seven or eight months, but that is enough. There are players who have an institution inside. Barcelona will stay alive, and look for a substitute, but [Puyol] will always be in people’s heads because he has left an unremovable mark.”