‘Injuries not down to Pep’s exit’

Andoni Zubizarreta has rejected the notion that Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates are picking up injuries as a result of changes post-Pep Guardiola.

Messi is out for an eight-week stretch with a torn hamstring, the fourth muscle injury suffered in the calendar year, whilst the club have recently seen Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique, Cristian Tello, Xavi Hernandez and Victor Valdes pick up varying complaints.

However, for the club’s sporting director, linking the number of injuries with policy changes since Coach Pep Guardiola’s departure in 2012 is wrong.

“What concerns us is that Messi recovers and then that he finds his physical condition for competition,” began Zubizarreta on the Argentine No 10’s continued issues in 2013.

“We have explained to him that there is no hurry. Everything has been reviewed. There are many, many reasons.

“And you have to understand that football is based on the human body and the human body suffers problems and the competitive process, calendars and breaks do not help.

“That Guardiola is gone does not matter. The demand for training, the diets, they have all been the same. The miles he does, etc.

“He arrived in preseason in perfect condition and training at a high intensity. The other thing is external circumstances.

“And injuries to others because Guardiola is not here? In a very tight schedule there can be exceptional circumstances.

“If then we thought that we could have done more, we will study and try to improve on it.”

Zubizarreta was asked for another soundbite on Tata Martino’s work so far at Barca, which has drawn discussion for a shift in playing style.

“We agree with how he understands football and what he wants to do. It is not our tradition, it leaves our grassroots football, but he knows and is interested in exploring this, hence the flexibility to adapt to a project that is unique.

“He knows of the particulars to this club. We brought him in with the season started and that is not easy.”

Tags Guardiola Martino Messi Zubizarreta