Lionel Messi’s camp has felt the need to release a long statement to clear up speculation about his current thigh injury and a reported broken relationship with key Barcelona medical staff.
Since it was confirmed on Monday that Messi would miss the rest of 2013 to allow persistent muscle issues in both his thighs to recover properly, the Spanish and Catalan media have been full of stories analysing the situation, the reasons for his recent string of similar injuries, and the potential fall-out for all involved.
Much of this coverage has focused on an alleged break in the previous close relationship between Messi and Barca physio Juanjo Brau, with the decision to bring over Argentine specialist Luis Garcia to oversee the recovery process seen as highly significant. This had led senior Barca figures including sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta to deny any issues between the player, his family, and the club.
Messi’s management team subsequently released a public statement on Wednesday evening to clarify what they see as numerous misrepresentations of the situation.
"The process of recovery from the injury [Messi] suffered last Sunday during the game Betis -- FC Barcelona began on Monday November 11," said the text released by 'Leo Messi Management'. "This injury, although of the same type and to the same leg, is not related to any previous ones. From two days ago the medical services of Futbol Club Barcelona are treating him so that he can recover completely."
"Being a player of the Asociacion de Futbol Argentino [AFA], and having games programmed with the national team, the licensed kinesiologist Dr. Luis Garcia arrived yesterday in Barcelona to represent the national team, to monitor the injury, and to know the state and scope of the same. Barca’s medical services, as always, are those who take charge of accompanying him and treating him, like any other player at the club in other occasions. So they will be supervising his injury during the whole process, including when Leo travels to Argentina during the Christmas period."
"We want to deny completely the information published in some media, and confirm the comments of different club figures: Juanjo Brau, a great professional who has been close [to Messi] for a long period of time in recent years, no longer works day-to-day with Leo because FC Barcelona promoted him professionally. His current responsibilities are coordinating the club’s first team squad physios. There have been no professional or personal differences, nor a distancing outside of not being as close during their daily work."
"Leo Messi will be focused in taking on the recovery process from this injury with all possible dedication and intensity, so he can return to the pitch to once more practice his profession and his great passion: football."
Meanwhile, Barca defender Gerard Pique, who is using the current international break to recover from his own groin injury, told Mundo Deportivo that you could see how the fitness issues had affected Messi’s mood.
"[Messi] has had a few injuries in a row, and that maybe has made him lose confidence," Pique said. "I have not had muscular problems like Leo has -- touch wood. He is down at the moment, but that is normal. It is a serious injury. As the days pass his spirits will pick up, but it is logical that he is suffering a certain psychological fatigue."
David Villa, who while at the Camp Nou did not always see eye-to-eye on the pitch with Messi, told Al Primer Toque that he wished his former teammate a quick recovery.
"Messi’s injury is a pity, when you see he has had to stop like this," Villa said. "I hope he recovers as quickly as possible."
Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella said he is relaxed about his captain's recovery, insisting that the No. 10 should take all the time he needs to regain full fitness.
"There is no reason to hurry Messi along in his recovery process because we are still a long way away from the World Cup," he said.
"Injuries are always a cause of concern, especially in a player of Messi's class, but we are optimistic. And because we know the pressure in this game, we have to try not to pile on any more pressure.
There is still a long way to go. It is logical that he will need time to recover and he will have the care needed. This way he will come back just as we are all hoping for."