Lionel Messi did his best to save Ousmane Dembele from a red card in Barcelona's clash with Sevilla as he explained to the referee that his team-mate doesn't speak Spanish very well.
Dembele was dismissed during the latter stages of the Liga fixture on Sunday.
There were just two minutes left on the clock when the France international winger was given his marching orders and it came just 60 seconds after debutant Ronald Araujo was also dismissed in Barca's 4-0 win.
Messi had hoped to avoid seeing Dembele join Araujo in heading down the tunnel, with the World Cup winner accused of verbally abusing match referee Miguel Antonio Mateu Lahoz.
The 22-year-old is said to have told the match official “you’re very bad”, with a red card then flashed in his direction.
Messi was among the first on the scene to remonstrate with Lahoz, with the Argentine claiming there had been a misunderstanding.
He suggested that Dembele does not know how to express himself properly in Spanish and deserved to be let off the hook as a result.
📰 — Messi tried to save Dembélé by telling the referee that Ousmane cannot express himself in Spanish.— Barca Universal (@BarcaUniversal) October 8, 2019
Messi (to Lahoz): "He can't speak."
Messi’s argument fell on deaf ears, with Dembele now facing the threat of missing out on a Clasico clash with Real Madrid on October 26.
The length of his ban is yet to be determined, but Barca have only one more Liga outing to take in – against Eibar – before welcoming their arch-rivals from the Spanish capital to Catalunya.
Gerard Pique was another who tried to prevent the Frenchman from being stung with a suspension.
He joined the protests alongside Messi, with the experienced centre-half claiming that Dembele had said “very badly” rather than calling Lahoz “bad”.
No leniency was shown, though, much to the frustration of those in the Barcelona ranks.
He told reporters: "The red cards? It's the referee's decision. Everyone has their opinion. I've seen a pretty clean game.
"I don't know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don't think it's a long sentence because it's hard to hear him speak Spanish."