The prominent Spanish football analyst Guillem Balagué has been released by mutual consent from his position with Sky Sports after a recording of him claiming Lionel Messi was “nothing more than a sensational footballer” was leaked by an insider at Sky.
The controversial remarks, thought to have been recorded during a commercial break after Barcelona's recent victory over Sevilla, have rankled with senior officials at the Murdoch-owned sports channel. Balagué can clearly be heard saying “I agree he's a phenomenal footballer, possibly the best in the world. I'm simply loathe to attribute the existence of the universe to him, even in a previous life. I think (the media are) going way overboard about this”.
Sky sources last night insisted that Balagué's departure was by mutual agreement, but his incoming replacement on the channel's flagship La Liga coverage, former Chelsea and Kilmarnock winger Pat Nevin, was keen to clarify that “in my opinion, Messi is so good that it's impossible for me to rule out that he had some input into the structure of the universe at atomic level. After all, he did score four goals against an English side in the Champions League. If that doesn't make him some kind of reincarnation of Jesus, then I don't know my football.”