Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino claims Lionel Messi was affected by criticism aimed towards him.
Messi has not been at his imperious best this season and Martino believes it is because his pride was hit by the talk, reports BBC Sport.
"Those that are negative do not realise they are affecting his pride," he said. "When you do that to the best player in the world, this is what happens."
The four-time winner scored a brace in Sundays 4-1 win over Sevilla, taking his tally to 11 goals in La Liga, despite a series of injuries.
This would be a good tally for most but not for the high standards Messi has reached in the last few years.
But Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta insists Messi will get back to his best quickly: "Leo never goes missing, he is one of the few players in the world that in a few seconds or in a few metres can turn a game. He does it all the time," he said, reported by BBC Sport.
Barca returned to the top of the table with the win against Sevilla, and face Real Sociedad in the second-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals tomorrow.
And Messi will need to return to scoring form quickly if he wants to catch long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is on double the amount of league goals as the Argentine.
Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are now all level on points at the top of La Liga after the latest weekend of action which saw Atletico slip up and the two traditional giants of Spain earn victories.
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