Imagine the scene: an hour before Barcelona are set to do battle with Eibar (huge game), a wide-eyed, nervous intern shuffles into the changing room. He moves past Andres Iniesta, sat perfectly still in a corner, his big moon face unblinking with a serial killer's smile. Away from Luis Suarez, happily chomping on a massive raw carrot. Gerard Pique is shirtless, chanting the mantra, "PiquePiquePiquePiquePiquePique" over and over again. While Javier Mascherano bangs his head repeatedly against the white brick wall and growls at the physios whenever they try to stop him.
Eventually he finds himself in Lionel Messi's spot; the seat of the king... if the king was really good at football and had shit tattoos.
"E-e-excuse me, Leo?"
"It's just that, well, I've been told by the PR guys that you've all got to wear t-shirts that say 'Courage Ousmane' on them, because, you know, Ousmane Dembele pulled his hammy the other day?"
"Well, you sort of have to because we've already started making a video for it and we really think it's going to be a hit on social media."
"Donde esta Neymar?"
"He's gone, Leo. He's gone"
*Messi begins to sob, heavy and silent, arms wrapped tightly around his body, rocking gently to and fro. "Fine", he says, head hung and eyes pleading. "I will wear this t-shirt to commemorate the one that is not Neymar, to honour his injured hammy."
"Thank you, Leo. The video will be beautiful."
We reckon this is exactly what went down prior to Barcelona essentially rolling out a 21-gun salute over Ousmane Dembele injuring his leg. Ok, it's frustrating, both for him and the club, but he's not you know, dying, is he? We certainly hope not.
To be fair, this is the same club that started the hashtag #weareallleomessi when he was caught evading his taxes, so really this is quite tame in the cringe PR stunt stakes.
Big Sam Allardyce wouldn't put up with any of this nonsense would he?