Barcelona Striker Blasts ‘Disrespectful’ Messi Shirt Rumor

Lionel Messi

Getty Lionel Messi celebrates scoring for Barcelona

Barcelona striker Martin Braithwaite has slammed rumors he asked for Lionel Messi’s No. 10 shirt following news the captain wants to leave the Camp Nou.

The Denmark international told Farzam Abolhosseini at Danish newspaper BT that such speculation is well wide of the mark.

“What do people think themselves? Of course I did not go to the club and ask for Messi’s number. It would be so disrespectful. I really feel that the people who come up with these kinds of stories lack respect for a lot of people.

“A lot of things are being written about Messi and I do not know what is happening. I can only say that he is a great player and person to be team-mates with. It goes without saying what he can do as a football player when he shows it every weekend. He is one of the best players ever and, of course, it will be a loss for the club if he disappears.”

Messi’s future remains the subject of huge speculation. The captain did not report for PCR testing on Sunday which means he can’t begin pre-season training with the rest of the first team on Monday.

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Braithwaite Keen to Stay at Barcelona

Braithwaite only joined Barcelona in February on an emergency transfer from Leganes, but there has already been speculation he could be sold this summer. The Denmark international scored just once in 15 appearances for the Catalan giants in 2019-20 and struggled for game time towards the end of the campaign.

The arrival of manager Ronald Koeman could boost his chances of playing next season, particularly as Luis Suarez has been told he is surplus to requirements by Barca’s new coach.

Koeman is planning to check on Braithwaite in pre-season training before making a decision on his future, according to Mundo Deportivo’s Gabriel Sans. Braithwaite’s contract at the club runs until June 2024.

Meanwhile, Braithwaite has made it clear he wants to stay at the Camp Nou and insists has not had any talks so far about leaving.

“I have a contract for four more years with Barcelona. I’m having a great time at the club and they’re happy with me, it seems, so I have a really good sense of where I am.

“To be honest, I have not had any talks about changing clubs with anyone at all. You’re the first one I talk to about it, because I have not had a single thought about it at all.

“I’m just thinking about how to prepare to play well for Barcelona next season. I’m insanely hungry to get out next season and win a lot of titles.”

Barcelona have brought in former striker Henrik Larsson as part of Koeman’s coaching team ahead of the new season. The popular Swede is expected to work with the club’s strikers and could prove to be an astute appointment.

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