According to a former Blaugrana defender, an odd regulation that Barcelona instituted during Lionel Messi’s tenure there was put in place to safeguard him.

Starting his career in Barcelona’s youth program, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner went on to win a slew of trophies. All while cementing his place in history as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

During his time at the Camp Nou, Messi won four UEFA Champions Leagues and 10 La Liga championships while scoring an incredible 672 goals in 778 games. Before joining Inter Miami this summer, the attacker spent two seasons in France with Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Camp Nou in 2021.

While playing for Barcelona, the 36-year-old shared the field with other teammates, including Jean-Claire Todibo. In January 2019, the defender transferred to the Catalan giants from French club Toulouse. He stayed for a few years until moving to Nice in 2021.

What did Todibo say about Messi?

Todibo, who was entering his 20s at the time, didn’t get much playing time while at Barcelona. During his stay at Camp Nou, the now 23-year-old only managed to participate in four games.

But he was a part of the exclusive group that trained with top players, including the World Cup champion.

The Argentine was subjected to an absurd regulation enforced by Barcelona’s higher-ups, which Todibo disclosed during his appearance on the Ligue 1 Show 9 program.

Due to the high caliber and significance of Messi’s contribution, Todibo has confessed that in order to prevent injuries to the Argentina international, the Barcelona players were forbidden from touching the forward during training.

This was done to make sure that the now 36-year-old veteran would not sustain any kind of injury,

“At Barcelona, they didn’t allow us to touch Messi in training. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. We had to be careful. But, that’s normal; he’s the best, and you don’t want to hurt him”, he is quoted as saying, via Mundo Deportivo.

Who is Jean-Clair Todibo?

Despite being brought in as a promising prospect by Barcelona in 2019, Todibo struggled to establish himself there. After that, he went on loan to Schalke 04, Benfica, and Nice.

Still, he was able to see Messi’s training sessions up close during his brief stint at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.

The defender’s time at Barcelona was ultimately cut short. Not long after club icon Lionel Messi left in the summer of 2021, he also left.

Nice was the latest stop in a string of loan stints; the French club eventually completed the transfer for good.

Though they no longer need him, the Catalan club’s faith in the Frenchman remained unshaken. The fact that the Spanish powerhouses held on to 20 percent of any potential sales demonstrates their confidence in the player.

Afterward, he became an important figure for them, and returning to his country, Todibo established a solid foundation.

Now he’s a key cog in one of Europe’s top defensive lines at Allianz Riviera. His contributions to Francesco Farioli’s undefeated start to the season and his inclusion on the French national team squad have been substantial so far.

Premier League teams like Manchester United and Chelsea are said to be vying for Todibo’s signature as his market worth reaches a reported record $33 million. Assuming the Red Devils go through with their plans, Barca would earn a sum of $6.5 million.

Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire