Lionel Messi has denied playing a role in the appointment of Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino as new Barcelona manager.
Martino and Messi hail from the same part of Argentina, and the former Paraguay and Newell’s Old Boys manager is said to be the footballing hero of Messi’s father, Jorge.
After his sudden appointment in the wake of Tito Vilanova’s resignation, Martino suggested that the Messi family had put in a good word for him with Barca’s decision makers.
"I don't know the details but I have no doubt that Messi spoke with the club directors. I'm sure that Jorge and Leo have had some input in this decision," Martino said.
"How much weight their opinions held in the decision I don't know, but I'm grateful."
But La Pulga Atomica insists that he has never even met Martino, and that the 50-year-old’s appointment on a two-year deal had very little to do with him.
"I said at the time that he seemed like a good manager, but I shouldn't have to explain that now," Messi said, according to Soccernet.
"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.”
While he is adamant that Martino was not his personal choice to take the reins at the Camp Nou, Messi does believe that Barca have made a pragmatic choice by hiring his home boy.
"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,” he said.
"We have to start all over again, after what happened to Tito, and we need to prepare ourselves for a tough season."