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Jul 25, 2013

Messi denies Martino reports

Following Barca's 2-0 friendly defeat against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena, Lionel Messi told the gathered press that he had no involvement in Gerardo Martino being appointed the club's new boss.

Barcelona host Levante at the Camp Nou in their opening fixture.
It has been claimed that Gerardo Martino was appointed purely to keep Lionel Messi happy

- Kelly: Martino in profile

Reports in Spain have suggested that Messi played a big part in the decision to bring in the former Newell's Old Boys manager, with the club desperate to keep the four-time Ballon d'Or winner happy. And the new Barca coach publicly thanked Messi in a press conference after being officially announced as Tito Vilanova's replacement.

"I don't know the details but I have no doubt that Messi spoke with the club directors. I'm sure that Jorge [Messi] and Leo [Messi] have had some input in this decision," Martino said in Rosario this week. "How much weight their opinions held in the decision I don't know, but I'm grateful."

El Tata Martino is apparently Messi's father Jorge's footballing hero and he is idolised at Newell's, where Messi began his youth career before joining La Masia. The Barca forward was recently quoted as saying how much he admired the 60-year-old manager, and his coaching style.

"I said at the time that he seemed like a good manager, but I shouldn't have to explain that now," Messi said on Wednesday night.

The 26-year-old emphasised that Martino is not a close family friend. However, the Argentine forward did sound pleased to have his compatriot in the Barca dugout for the next two seasons.

"I don't know him personally and I never met with him – not with him nor with Luis Enrique who was the other manager people spoke about," Messi added. "I think it's a good signing because he'll be coming here to win games and he has shown both at Newell's and with the Paraguay national team what he is capable of. I hope it works out well.

"We have to start all over again, after what happened to Tito, and we need to prepare ourselves for a tough season."

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