Tata Martino, Barcelona coach for the 2013/14 season, has denied telling Lionel Messi: “I know that if you call the president he will dismiss me, but you don’t need to prove it me every day,” according to Mundo Deportivo.
The phrase attained quasi-legendary status over the years, seen my many to be a pithy encapsulation of the power Messi has wielded at Camp Nou in the post-Pep Guardiola era.
It was former Barcelona Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta that claimed Martino had uttered the phrase, but the Rosario-born coach has since refuted the claim. “I never expressed those words,” he said.
“That phrase is the responsibility of the former Sporting Director Zubizarreta, from what I read, in a note to Vicente Del Bosque. In any case, if I had something to say, either now or before, I would have said it [to Messi]. Those words never came out of my mouth and I have nothing to say about it.”
Martino refused to answer whether it was difficult to manage Messi, a hot topic after Quique Setién’s recent comments. “It’s a matter of the past. Now I am the coach of Mexico. I believe that people say and do things when we are in the place – after it has no validity.
“I already expressed myself in those moments and there is nothing that changes my opinion – my time with Barcelona passed a long time ago, and there’s nothing to add.”
Martino won the Spanish Super Cup during his solitary season in Catalonia, but failed in the three prizes that matter most to the club – LaLiga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.
Since then, he’s spent two years in charge of his native Argentina and two in charge of MLS side Atlanta United. Since 2019, he’s coached the Mexican national team, and by all accounts is doing a sterling job.
Featured image from FC Barcelona Noticias.