Barcelona, Spain – Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi -- a player usually far removed from controversy -- has been accused of racism by Everton's on-loan midfielder Royston Drenthe.
Drenthe, who is on loan from Real Madrid, said he had a number of problems with Messi while coming up against him in Spain.
"You know what bothers me so? That tone with which he always says, 'Negro, negro,'" Drenthe said, according to Dutch magazine NUsport.
"I understand that 'negro' in South America is very common, but we cannot stand it.
"Mahamadou Diarra, my teammate at Real, could explode if 'negro' was aimed at him. The Argentineans Gabriel Heinze and Gonzalo Higuain said it initially on the training ground, but they soon stopped."
The 25-year-old Dutchman said he also came up against Messi while playing for Spanish side Hercules, and once again encountered problems.
I understand that 'negro' in South America is very common, but we cannot stand it.
- Royston Drenthe
"When Hercules played Barcelona, during the game I had a small altercation with him. He gave me a hand in the match and again said a few times, 'Hola, negro.'
"I didn't get a handshake from him afterwards. I don't expect an invite to his birthday party."
Messi and Barcelona were yet to respond to the claims.