Manchester City have insisted that Mikel Arteta did nothing to spark an angry tunnel bust-up with Lionel Messi.
Barcelona superstar Messi reacted angrily when he saw Arteta celebrating in the aftermath of Manchester City’s 3-1 Champions League triumph on Tuesday night.
Arteta, assistant coach to former Nou Camp boss Pep Guardiola, high-fived with the City players on the touchline after the club’s historic first-ever win over the Catalan giants.
But when he took his celebrations inside Messi took exception.
Former Arsenal and Everton midfielder Arteta, 34, who played for the C and B teams of Barca just before Messi arrived at the Nou Camp, was shouting in joy and fist-pumping in the tunnel.
Messi told him to quieten down and is he understood to have said to him in Spanish: “Go and enjoy yourself in the dressing room.
“Do not do this here.”
City, however, stress that the Spaniard was blameless in the incident and stress : “Manchester City and Mikel Arteta would like to make it clear that Mikel did nothing to provoke an incident with Lionel Messi.”
City striker Sergio Aguero confirmed that he stepped in to calm down what became a general melee after the heated exchange.
Spanish radio station COPE alleged Messi headed to the City dressing room, yelling “Stupid, come here and show your face, don’t hide” before being calmed down by Aguero.
The City striker reassured his fellow-countryman with two playful slaps on the chest.
Aguero said later: “Whenever you lose you’re not very happy.
“I saw him there, he was feeling bad.
“I know him well enough to know when he’s bad, when he’s good.
“But when you lose, nobody’s good!
“I thought Messi said something to me but he didn’t, and then we talked about other stuff. It was nothing serious.
“I heard something but I don’t know what happened.
“When someone loses you have to respect them. Leo wasn’t in the mood to talk and I respect that.”