Barcelona head coach Frank Rijkaard has opted to rest Ronaldinho for his side's crunch Spanish Cup semi-final clash with Valencia.
The Brazilian star was left out of the Catalan giants' 2-2 draw with Almeria on Sunday after the club had stated he had picked up a groin strain.
Rumours circulated in Spain on Monday after Barcelona's medical team said Ronaldinho had not suffered any muscle or tendon damage - prompting press speculation that his absence was a symptom of a "lowering of morale" at the club.
Rijkaard denied claims that the 27-year-old was having a negative impact on his team-mates, and revealed that the playmaker expressed a desire to play prior to Sunday's kick-off.
Rijkaard said: "He wanted to play but we did not include him as a precaution.
"I don't doubt a player when he says that he has a problem. I intend to always defend the players."