After seeing his defenders thoroughly outclassed by Lionel Messi, Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller was dismayed to hear they had been squabbling for his shirt.
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Messi scored one goal, set up another and hit the post in Barcelona’s 3-1 Champions League win at Leverkusen on Tuesday, when two of the home side’s players were a little too keen to collect a souvenir from the three-time world player of the year.
The eagerness of defenders Michal Kadlec and Manuel Friedrich to acquire Messi’s shirt was ”definitely a bit too much,” Voeller said in Thursday’s edition of German daily Bild.
Bild reported that Kadlec exchanged shirts with the Argentina star at halftime, only for Friedrich to take it from him after a squabble outside the changing rooms.
”Manuel stole the jersey from me during halftime,” Kadlec told the newspaper.
Both defenders had been badly caught out of position when Messi played Alexis Sanchez through for Barcelona’s first goal shortly before the break.
Voeller was furious the two players allowed themselves be star-struck when ”90 percent of the team was fully concentrated on the game.”
Kadlec, who scored Leverkusen’s goal, managed to exchange shirts a second time after the final whistle – after Sanchez scored a second and Messi rounded off the scoring.
Voeller promised to speak to the two players.
”I guarantee that Kadlec and Friedrich will auction their Messi jerseys for a good cause,” he said.
Kadlec acknowledged later Thursday that ”in hindsight, it doesn’t leave the best impression to exchange jerseys at halftime already.”
The Czech left back denied he and Friedrich fought over Messi’s shirt, adding that he was ”joking” when he said his teammate stole it.
Leverkusen plays the second leg of the round-of-16 tie in Barcelona on March 7.