Four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has shot back angrily at rumours that he could leave Barcelona after clashing with coach Luis Enrique and the club’s board, AFP reports.
The Argentine was in top form with a goal and two assists as the Catalan giants ended and unsettling week off the field with a crucial 3-1 win over La Liga champions Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
“I have never demanded anything to ensure that I stay because I have never had any intention of leaving,” he told Barca TV after the match.
“I have heard it said that my dad has spoken to Chelsea or Manchester City. It is all lies.
“I have taken this chance to deny it so that everyone knows the truth.”
Messi had missed training last week Monday, citing a stomach bug, after being left on the bench by Enrique for last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad.
And he sent the rumour mill into overdrive later in the day by following Chelsea and two of their players Thibaut Courtois and Filipe Luis on social media site Instagram.
Sources in the Catalan press then claimed Messi had met with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu in midweek to ask for the former Barca captain Enrique to be replaced as coach.
“I am grateful to be able to give my version of events,” he said.
“It hurts me because it comes from here, from Barcelona, from people that love the club, or say they do. It doesn’t come from Madrid like it has in the past.
“It is not good that they look for rivalry between Luis Enrique and I because there isn’t any,” Messi added.