?Lionel Messi was seen trying to defend Barcelona teammate Ousmane Dembélé after the Frenchman was deemed to have insulted referee Miguel Antonio Mateu Lahoz in the 4-0 win over Sevilla.
According to Lahoz’s ?match report, Dembélé was shown a red card for calling the referee “very bad” after he dismissed teammate Ronald Araujo – a decision which could see him suspended for El Clasico.
However, as noted by ?Sport, ?Messi actually tried to plead with Lahoz in support of ?Dembélé, insisting that it was all a misunderstanding because of the language barrier between the two.
Messi told Lahoz “He doesn’t know how to speak [Spanish], he doesn’t know how to speak”, but Lahoz was not convinced and decided to uphold his decision.
?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde confirmed after the game that Dembélé’s Spanish is not the strongest, adding that he did not really understand why the winger was dismissed.
?The club have appealed the decision, and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) will meet to discuss the situation on Wednesday, when they could also decide to hand Dembélé a minimum two-game ban if he is found guilty of abusing an official.
As it stands, he will miss the trip to Eibar after the international break because of the automatic suspension that comes with any red card in ?La Liga, but Barcelona’s next league game is against ?Real Madrid at Camp Nou, and Dembélé is at risk of missing that match.
La Liga have often handed out two-game bans for players who have been found guilty of similar insults, and Barcelona fear that they could do the same again.
Losing Dembélé would come as a huge blow for La Blaugrana, who sit two points behind their rivals in the league table.
However, with the likes of Messi, ?Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in their ranks, Ernesto Valverde will still have plenty of options to choose from if Dembélé is suspended.