Barcelona have leapt to the defence of Lionel Messi after he was accused of racially abusing Royston Drenthe during the on-loan Everton midfielder's time in Spain.Drenthe, who is spending the season at Goodison Park on a temporary deal from Real Madrid, claimed in Holland's Helden magazine that he was taunted by the Argentina superstar when they met in the Primera Division.
But Barca insisted the accusations were 'well wide of the mark'.
When quizzed on the issue, a Barca spokesman said: 'The player has always shown a maximum respect and sportsmanship towards his rivals, something which has been recognised by his fellow professionals many times, and we are sure that any accusations to the contrary are well wide of the mark.
Dutchman is officially owned by Real Madrid, and came up against Messi during his time in Spain.
It is then that the Holland international alledges he was called a 'negro' by the FIFA world player of the year, the same claims laid at Luis Suarez, another South American, by Patrice Evra.
Uruguyan Suarez was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 earlier this season after being found guilty of using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour in a Premier League match in 2011.