Barcelona boss Martino not worried by Messi goal drought

The Argentine remains confident his star man will soon return to his goalscoring ways and admitted Neymar may not be fit for the Champions League last-16 clash with Manchester City
Gerardo Martino insists he is not worried over Lionel Messi's lack of goals for Barcelona following his return from a hamstring injury.

The Argentine spent two months on the sidelines after picking up the problem back in November and has failed to find the back of the net in the league since making his comeback at the start of January.

Messi's last goal in La Liga was a solitary strike in the Blaugrana's 2-0 away win over Almeria on September 28, but Barcelona boss Martino has played down the significance of his star man's current dry spell.

"The biggest benefit is that Leo does not bear much responsibility,” Martino said ahead of this weekend's clash with Valencia.

“This year, the this situation is more beneficial because the other players are also growing.”

The reigning Liga champions have returned 23 goals in eight Liga matches since Messi's last league strike, though the 26-year-old did score two goals in the 4-0 win over Getafe in the Copa del Rey on January 8.

Martino also revealed he had spoken to the forward one-on-one this week but denied the discussion had anything to do with his performances on the pitch.

Martino added: “What I talked to him has nothing to do with Barcelona. I hope I can explain it next week.

“What I did with him, I do with most players.”

The former Newell's Old Boys coach then gave his thoughts on Neymar's battle to recover from an ankle problem in time for the first-leg of his side's Champions League last-16 clash with Manchester City.

“I am very respectful of what the doctors tell me. The importance of that game does not warrant putting a player at risk.”