Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza has attempted to clarify comments made over Lionel Messi’s treatment at Barcelona, saying he does not want to fight with the club over the player.
The 29-year-old sustained a groin injury during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid, which is set to keep him sidelined for the next three weeks and has made him a doubt for Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Paraguay next month.
Bauza, speaking on Thursday, suggested the Spanish champions had not been careful enough when it comes to managing Messi’s playing time this season, with the forward having played the entirety of all but one of Barca’s eight matches prior to leaving the field against Atletico.
However, the former Rosario Central boss says his comments were taken out of context and that the Argentina camp worked closely with Barca when Messi sustained a similar groin problem on international duty this month.
“I want to clarify that I don’t want to fight with Barcelona. Quite the opposite,” he told Sport. “We want to work alongside them for the good of the player, who is not just any player.
“What I said was in a context that is not reflected in the news stories, in which I underlined that it’s the responsibility of everyone to look after Messi.
“Barcelona’s people called me specially after the game against Venezuela and asked that he would return to the club as soon as possible to continue his recovery.
“We understand that it was for the best for Messi and his club, and we agreed.
“Also, we can’t ignore that Messi played five games in two weeks. We then also asked the club to consider that with the player, and to look after him so that everyone can enjoy him. His injury is damaging to us.”
Bauza believes it will be important to grant Messi increased periods of rest this season, despite his desire to feature for the entirety of every game.
“I don’t know Messi too well, but I understand that he always wants to play for his club and the national team,” he said. “We, the coaches and doctors, must assume responsibility while he’s with us and have the ability to discourage him from playing all the time, because he runs the risk of becoming injured.
“We cannot and we do not want to intervene with Barcelona’s plans, and we understand that the club needs to be able to count on the player. That’s why I said we have to be conscious and help them to look after him, protect him, so that we and Barcelona can enjoy him.”