Gerardo Martino defends Messi performances

Gerardo Martino has dismissed claims that Lionel Messi is not performing well for Barcelona, and praised his recent displays.

Messi, with 8 goals from 8 games this season, must be the only player in the history of the sport who has scored a goal a game and yet is still be deemed to be performing below expectations. One wonders what the unforgiving Spanish press will have to say about Gareth Bale’s underwhelming start to his career at Real Madrid.

As for Messi, he had a quiet game in Saturday’s El Clasico¬†against Madrid, but¬†Martino remains happy with the 26-year-old’s performances.

“I’m not worried about Messi, that’s more something from people outside,” the former Paraguay coach said. “Even if he doesn’t score, he’s important for the team.

“He can play at different positions and that’s a good thing for the team

“If with his current stats, journalists think Messi isn’t doing well, I guess his stats will be out of this world when he’s good.”

Victory over Madrid saw Barcelona move six points clear of their rivals after 10 rounds, but Martino was quick to dampen any talk of the title and insisted his side will maintain their focus.

“You win the league game by game,” he stated. “You can’t relax. We should continue to improve every match.

“Winning El Clasico is always a mental boost for the players. The mood can’t be better.

“Until numbers say otherwise, Madrid are a rival for the title.

“Atletico is doing perfectly, I have said it before they’re a candidate.”