Soccer

Barcelona coach Martino says something is wrong with Messi

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The Canadian Press
3/7/2014 10:14:18 AM
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BARCELONA, Spain -- Something is not right with Lionel Messi, according to Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino, after the Argentina forward appeared to vomit during an international friendly.

The 26-year-old Messi doubled over during Argentina's 0-0 draw against Romania on Wednesday.

Martino thought Messi had the flu before a 3-1 loss to Real Sociedad nearly two weeks ago. But the Argentine coach has changed his thinking since.

"This is something he's had for quite some time. I'm not a specialist and so far we haven't figured out what is causing this, but this doesn't affect his play," Martino said on Friday. "But something is not right."

Martino told a news conference that Messi had seen a specialist, which proved inconclusive.

Despite this, Messi was included in the squad for Saturday's match at Valladolid.

Midfielder Andres Iniesta will not play at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium after being left out for personal reasons.

Jordi Alba will also be missing as Martino does not want to "overwork" the Spain fullback going into Wednesday's Champions League home match against Manchester City. Center back Gerard Pique returns from injury against Valladolid.

Defender Carles Puyol was also left out of the team after having announced his intention to leave his boyhood club at the end of the season.

Martino suggested Barcelona's current squad was not deep enough to fill Puyol's void next season, and it will need to tap the summer transfer market to find a centre back.

"What I can't imagine is (Barcelona) signing a third or fourth-rate player. Barca doesn't sign such players," Martino said. "(Puyol) is the kind of player a club very rarely comes across. Footballers like these are irreplaceable."

Barcelona trails Spanish league leader Real Madrid by one point in the standings.

Lionel Messi (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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