Lionel Messi says people should stop "inventing strange reasons" behind his run of injuries, as he is just going through a spell of bad luck at the moment.
Since it was confirmed that Messi would not play again in 2013 due to his fifth muscle injury in six months, media reports in Catalonia, Spain, Argentina and elsewhere have centred on potential reasons for the continuing issues -- particularly recent changes in Barcelona’s medical department which had reportedly left the player feeling he was not getting the right attention and asking for an expert from the Argentina FA to oversee his recovery this time around.
Messi told Argentine sports paper Ole that he was both sad and annoyed at the latest setback, but had to accept that these things can happen to any player.
“I am sad because I did not expect it,” he said. “And also annoyed because this is an injury which happened to me just after another. But not worried, seriously. This injury happened as it had to happen. There is nothing strange behind it, nor nothing to look for… A bang, a slip and I was injured. People can say many things, but my injury was just bad luck.”
Messi said he accepted that Barca physio Juanjo Brau had been promoted away from day-to-day duties by his side, and there was nothing unusual about Argentina kinesiologist Luis Garcia flying to Catalonia to look at the injury.
“People talk about these things without knowing what they are talking about,” Messi said. “It is not true. A load of things are invented... Just so everyone knows: Juanjo is still the Barca physio, with more responsibility as they made him the boss [of the physio department].
"That is good for him personally. I am not going to say no, to stop him having that chance. Someone from the Argentina national team came to see me to learn about the injury. [But] I say again -- there is nothing strange going on.”
Other ‘reasons’ put forward for the string of injuries included his own wish to play every minute of every game for his club, and last summer’s hectic schedule which included travelling over 120,000 kilometres to play various club and charity friendlies on four continents.
Messi said this again was nonsense, as he had no issues taking a rest when needed, and the summer’s games had not been demanding, just some fun for a good cause.
“While I feel good, I will play whatever is necessary,” he said. “I do not have to put limits on myself. I know when the coach wants to take me off, he will take me off, and that’s fine. There is no need to look for things which are not there.
"Everything that has been said are just inventions... I am not the only one who plays many games in a season… Everyone in La Liga does it. And [the travel] ... those games during the holidays are just fun without any pressure. We get together, we help with some social issue. I enjoy it. There is no need to look for strange things. There is no need to change.”
Barca’s statement last week said that their No. 10 was expected to return in "eight to ten weeks", which would see him play again in early January. Messi said he had not set himself a target game for his comeback.
“The truth is I do not know,” he said. “The plan is to return when my body tells me I am right.”
Meanwhile, blaugrana sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has also played down the reports that Barcelona’s internal club politics are somehow to blame for Messi’s recurring injury problems.
Zubizarreta told Radio Catalunya that the "reorganisation" within the club’s medical staff was not "a central issue."
“Juanjo [Brau] is not working with Messi because the physiotherapy department was reorganised in the summer,” he said. “Things were moved around and you must adapt so there is as little disruption as possible, but I would not make that into a central issue.”
Zubi said the club would not rush Messi back, so that he would be at his best when he does return.
“The recovery is well set-out and we are not in a hurry for him to return to play,” he said. “When he does come back, he will be fresh and that day we will all expect to see [the real] Messi. With him, the expectation is always high.”