The Frenchman, who recently joined Schalke, claims that the Blaugrana squad are wary of injuring the six-time Ballon d’Or winner in training
Barcelona players “go easy” on Lionel Messi on the training pitch, according to Jean-Clair Todibo, who has spent that last year playing alongside the Argentine at Camp Nou.
Messi remains the Blaugrana’s most influential player and leader, with very few signs of decline being shown despite the fact he is now approaching his 33rd birthday.
He did, however, struggle with a number of niggling injuries at the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and did not get back into his stride until returning to full fitness in October.
The diminutive playmaker has since played a key role in Barca’s latest bid for silverware across multiple fronts, and has 17 goals to his name from 20 appearances in total.
Todibo – who has been sent out on loan to Schalke for the remainder of the season – says the Barca squad take steps to avoid hurting Messi in training, knowing full well how important it is to keep a prized asset fully fit and available.
“We all knew that he couldn’t get injured,” Todibo told German outlet Bild.
“I learned a lot [from Messi], and also stole a few balls from him [in training]. But you go easy on Messi, nobody wants to hurt him.”
Todibo struggled to make an impact at Camp Nou after joining the club from Toulouse, and Schalke have the option to sign him on a permanent deal in the summer for €25m (£21m/$28m).
Barca have inserted a €50m (£43m/$56m) buy-back clause in the agreement, but the 20-year-old is already prepared to “give everything” to Schalke’s cause after settling in quickly over the last week.
He said: “I want to play and I will give everything. I have integrated well thanks to the help of the coaches and my team-mates.”
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Todibo could make his debut for the Bundesliga outfit on Saturday, with a trip to the Allianz Arena to face reigning champions Bayern Munich on the cards.
Meanwhile, Messi and Co are currently preparing for a clash with Valencia at the Mestalla on Saturday as they continue to chase down a third successive Liga crown.
Barca are currently top of the standings on goal difference ahead of arch-rivals Real Madrid, who will be back in action on Sunday against Real Valladolid.