Lionel Messi’s return for Barcelona on Saturday wasn’t without a little drama as his frustrations evidently got the better of him.
Messi made his first appearance back in Barcelona colors for Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Gimnastic de Tarragona at the Johan Cruyff Stadium; the one adjacent to the club’s Ciutat Esportiva training ground in Sant Joan Despi.
Despite his attempts to leave this summer, the Argentine still wore the captain’s armband and started in a rare 4-2-3-1 formation featuring two holding midfielders for Ronald Koeman’s first match as Blaugrana manager.
It was a relatively low-key affair for Messi, though, as Barca secured a comfortable 3-1 win over their fellow Catalan side. He played the entire first-half and made way for Martin Braithwaite at half-time, with the club 2-0 up.
But while his outing on Saturday was brief at best, Javier Ribelles will never forget it for several reasons. The Nastic midfielder had the near-impossible task of man-marking the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and resorted to physical contact to put the brakes on him.
While many fans could possibly sympathize with Ribelles’ plight, his actions didn’t win any plaudits with Leo.
Speaking on El Chiringuito de Jugones, the Spaniard recalled Messi’s exact words to him: “What are you doing, idiot? Do you want to stop kicking me all the time?”
— El Chiringuito TV (@elchiringuitotv) September 14, 2020
Ribelles added that he told Messi that there wasn’t another way to stop him, who he openly regards as the best.
Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, and the returning Philippe Coutinho were the goalscorers for Barcelona.
Koeman’s side will next meet Girona in another pre-season friendly at the same venue on Wednesday.