6 Aug 2015

Messi gets messy

2:02 pm on 6 August 2015

The Argentina football superstar Lionel Messi was at the centre of a headbutting controversy as Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 victory over Serie A side Roma in a pre-season friendly at the Camp Nou.

Messi who's renowned for rarely losing his cool despite regularly being the target of brutal tackling, reacted angrily during a confrontation with Roma's French international Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

Footage of the first half incident showed Messi aiming a headbutt at Yanga-Mbiwa after the Roma defender appeared to nod his head in the direction of the diminutive South American star.

A furious Messi grabbed Yanga-Mbiwa by the throat after clashing with the defender before other players rushed over to intervene.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi. Photo: Photosport

Messi escaped a red card for the incident, however, receiving only a caution from referee Javier Estrada Fernandez. Yanga-Mbiwa was also booked.

The flashpoint represented a rare loss of cool for Messi. The Argentine has never been sent off for Barcelona and has only ever been red-carded once - on his international debut as a teenager in 2005.

Barcelona kick off the defence of their Spanish league crown against Athletic Bilbao later this month.