Cesc Fabregas voiced his support for Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi on Wednesday in the wake of an apparent dip in form by the Argentina star triggering criticism in the Spanish media.
"If we criticise Messi I can't imagine what we can say about every other footballer. I'm ready to cut off my hand that Messi will once again win the Ballon d'Or (he has won it the past two years)," Fabregas told a press conference at Barcelona's training ground.
Messi has come under fire in some sections of the domestic media after failing to get on the scoring sheet in his past three matches and his recent below par performances notably in Tuesday's 1-0 win at Granada.
"To criticise Messi is unfair, what this player does we will never see the like of again," added Fabregas.
The former Arsenal captain then turned to an incident involving him and Mali striker Freddie Kanoute in the goalless draw against Sevilla last Saturday.
Towards the end of the match Kanoute responded to a provocation from Fabregas, the Sevilla star grabbing Fabregas by the neck. Kanoute was sent off for the gesture and Fabregas received a yellow card.
"We sorted out the incident on the telephone. I told Kanoute: 'I didn't say anything racist to you' and he replied that he never thought I had said anything like that. I'm cool about it, I know what I said."