Barcelona have defended Lionel Messi over allegations from Real Madrid midfielder Royston Drenthe of racist abuse.

Drenthe, who is spending the season at Everton, claimed in Holland's Helden magazine that he was taunted by the Argentina superstar when they met in the Primera Division.

But Barca have insisted the accusations were "well wide of the mark".

A Barca spokesman told PA Sport: "The player has always shown a maximum respect and sportsmanship towards his rivals, something which has been recognised by his fellow professionals many times, and we are sure that any accusations to the contrary are well wide of the mark.

"His behaviour throughout his career has always been exemplary."