Barcelona have categorically denied reports that Lionel Messi's recent drop in form is due to an injury, according to both Mundo Deportivo and Sport. The Argentine international extended his goal drought to five games in the Champions League elimination to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night (13 April), but Catalan media have said the club denies fitness issues are at the root of this dry spell.
Messi has scored 37 goals in 42 appearances this season, even though a knee injury in September 2015 forced him to spend two months on the sidelines. The current Ballon d'Or had a sensational run during February and the start of March, scoring 16 goals in 11 games including three over two legs against Arsenal and a pair of hat-tricks versus Valencia and Eibar.
However, Messi has failed to find the net for Barcelona in the past five games – three in La Liga and two in the Champions League. He is yet to score since the 3-1 victory against Arsenal on 16 March.
The goal blank has coincided with Barcelona's worst run of the campaign, with the 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid in the European quarter-final first leg being their only win in five. However, even that result was rendered pointless on Wednesday night as Diego Simeone's side overcame the deficit with a 2-0 comeback.
Barcelona drew with Villarreal prior to the international break, where Messi joined up with his international teammates. Following those games, Barcelona have suffered consecutive league defeats to Real Madrid and Real Sociedad, results that have seen their lead at the top of La Liga cut to just three points.
This situation has sparked rumour of what has happened to Barcelona, and more specifically to their Argentine talisman.
Cadena Cope suggested after the Atletico Madrid defeat that Messi had been carrying a muscle injury over the past few weeks.
The radio station reported Messi was "suffering on silent" due to his desire to play for both Barcelona and Argentina, despite his niggles.
They also claimed that he even visited Italy on 7 April to see Giuliano Poser, a physician. The report suggested recovery was going well, but the player still needs to be under treatment as his issues have not disappeared.
However, both Mundo Deportivo and Sport claim Barcelona sources have dismissed claims Messi has any injuries. The second report said the club "categorically" denies any issues, but Mundo Deportivo adds that Messi's entourage did admit he has some minor niggles.