'It's weird when something like that happens' – Messi speaks out on Barcelona social media scandal

The Argentine attacker was shocked by suggestions the Spanish giants hired a company to tarnish his image on social media

Lionel Messi says he was taken by surprise by the revelations of an alleged social media scandal at Barcelona.

Reports published in Spain this week claimed the Catalan side hired a PR company to create social media accounts that would boost the reputation of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu while at the same time tarnishing those of a host of figures linked to Barca, including Messi, Gerard Pique, Xavi and former manager Pep Guardiola.

Barcelona issued a statement denying the reports on Monday. Although they admitted hiring I3 Ventures, Barca insisted that the company “has no relationship with the accounts mentioned and, if any relationship was to come to light, the club would immediately end their contractual agreement and bring about any necessary legal action to defend their interests.”

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Bartomeu then described as “totally false” the claims that they hired the company to discredit anyone. 

And Messi says Bartomeu spoke to the players after the reports came out and explained the situation, but the Argentine icon is not sure if the reports are true.

“It really took me a bit by surprise because I wasn’t here and I was just travelling. When I got back I learned a little about everything,” he told Mundo Deportivo.

“The president told us the same thing he said in public – the same thing he said at the press conference. What was the situation, what had happened and I can’t say much more. Just as you know everything he said, he told the captains the same in private.

“It’s weird that something like this happens, but they also said that there would be evidence.

“We will have to wait to see if it is true or not. We cannot say much and we will wait to see what happens with all of this. I really thought it was a strange subject.”

Messi was just 13 when he moved to Barcelona from his hometown of Rosario in Argentina.

After 20 years at Camp Nou, the attacker is still happy at the club, though he still misses his place of birth.

“I love Barcelona but I also miss Rosario a lot,” the 32-year-old added when asked about his home life. “This is my home, I’ve spent more time here than I did in Argentina.

“I love Barcelona, the place where I live in Castelldefels and I have a life that I like very much.”

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