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Why Barcelona Star Lionel Messi Vomits, and How It Will Affect Argentina's World Cup

A new article by Diego Torres, a sometimes-controversial but generally respected Spanish journalist, sheds light on Lionel Messi's mind, and how it affects his vomiting problem.

Ronald Martinez

"Lionel Messi has problems with nervousness. Also, he's anxious for the World cup to start." Those were the reasons given by Argentina's coach Alejandro Sabella for his star man's vomiting problem.

It happened again in the friendly against Slovenia, worryingly for Argentina fans, with the next game no longer a friendly.

"The doctors say it's nothing to worry about," Messi's father, Jorge, told AS. "It does not just happen to him, but to other great athletes in other sports, too."

"It is a bit about the stress, or a little stomach problem, but there is nothing else. There is no need to give it too much attention," he finalized.

Yet, there's been plenty of attention around it. It's impossible not to find analysis on a player that many are already touting as a Golden Boot candidate for the World Cup, which starts today.

Diego Torres, a well-connected if sometimes-controversial Spanish journalist writing for El Pais, has an insightful explanation. "The doctors in Argentina and Barcelona agree," he writes. "The vomiting is psychosomatic."

In other words, a physical manifestation of immense psychological pressure.

"The demand from a nation that requires the World Cup like it were a right," Torres says, "is just a fraction of the weight he holds up."

According to Torres, Messi is deeply troubled because he believes his father is responsible for getting him in legal trouble over taxes. The legal trouble is one of the few blemishes to his cherub-like image.

Messi never paid any mind to money and trusted his family to handle it.

Worse, he felt betrayed by the higher-ups in Barcelona. Torres insists that Messi felt they needed to have his back but were nowhere to be seen.

Messi wanted to feel supported, and thus sought to be paid in accordance to the salaries of the world's biggest stars. He wasn't worried about the money per se, but wanted for Barca to show its faith, Torres writes.

He was earning around 30% less than Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Wayne Rooney, and was even further away from Cristiano Ronaldo. For the first time, he asked for a raise.

Barcelona did give him that raise, eventually, but they publicly declared it to be Messi's idea, in a move he felt made him look greedy, according to the article.

The article goes on to say that some in the Barca board felt he should be sold while his value was still sky-high, avoiding another drop the likes of which was experienced by another Barcelona superstar, Ronaldinho.

The raise did not seal the wound, because it was never truly about the money. Messi kissed the badge after an amazing performance against Real Madrid, his way of promising the fans that he cared. But, according to Torres, the relationship with the board is still strained.

For Argentina, Torres reveals that Sabella tends to speak through interpreters, namely Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, and Fernando Gago. No one outside of his inner circle truly understands him.

(Incidentally, that would make the re-signing of Mascherano make even more sense for Barcelona.)

When he arrived at Barcelona, Cesc Fabregas says they thought he was a mute because he never talked. When he was a little boy in Argentina, a girl in class spoke for him to his teachers. It seems little has changed.

The secret to managing Messi, according to Sabella, is simple. "Don't bust his balls," he says.

If Torres's article is accurate, the Barcelona board have done a terrible job of following that mantra.

Read the article (in Spanish) here.

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