Barcelona have leapt to the defence of Lionel Messi after he was accused of racially abusing Royston Drenthe during the on-loan Everton midfielder's time in Spain.
Drenthe, who is spending the season at Goodison Park on a temporary deal from Real Madrid, claimed in Holland's Helden magazine that he was taunted by the Argentina superstar when they met in the Primera Division.
But Barca today insisted the accusations were "well wide of the mark".
When quizzed on the issue by Press Association Sport, a Barca spokesman said: "The player has always shown a maximum respect and sportsmanship towards his rivals, something which has been recognised by his fellow professionals many times, and we are sure that any accusations to the contrary are well wide of the mark.
"His behaviour throughout his career has always been exemplary."