Barcelona star Lionel Messi has angrily hit out at rumours claiming he wants to leave the Camp Nou - and insists that neither he nor his father have been in contact with Chelsea or Manchester City regarding a potential move to the Premier League this summer.
Speculation has been rife over the past week that Messi is planning to leave Barcelona having become increasingly disillusioned with the current situation at the Camp Nou.
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Spanish sources were convinced Messi had fallen out with Barcelona’s head coach Luis Enrique, while it was even reported last week that the Argentina captain had spoken with the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu expressing his wish for the manager to be fired.
Messi hits out at 'lies'
But speaking after Sunday’s 3-1 victory over reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid - in which Messi produced a virtuoso display, getting himself on the scoresheet in the process - the Barcelona No. 10 said that stories about him wanting a move to the Premier League were “all lies”.
“I have never demanded anything to stay because I don’t have any intention of going,” he told reporters. “I heard people say that my dad had spoken to Chelsea, to City… it’s all lies. I heard all sorts of things said. I never come out and deny [stories] but this time I am.
“It has been said that I have pushed out lots of people … [Samuel] Eto’o, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, Bojan [Krkic], [Pep] Guardiola… [and] I didn’t ask them to sack our manager.”
Messi speaks out about Enrique relationship
On rumours about his strained relationship with Enrique, Messi responded: “It’s not good for people to look for rivalry between me and Luis Enrique because there isn’t any.
“It hurts because it comes from people who [supposedly] love Barcelona. It’s people who want to hurt the club – and this time it did not come from Madrid, like other times, it has come from here.
“I have heard lots of things being said about me before and now. They make it look like I am the one who is in charge here when I am just another player.
“Don’t throw s*** at us from outside because that will only do us harm.”
Win buys Enrique time
Sunday’s comprehensive victory over Atletico is a result which buys Enrique some much-needed time following a turbulent week at the Camp Nou which saw both sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and his assistant Carles Puyol leave their posts.
Barca now find themselves three points ahead of third-placed Atletico in second position, a point behind league-leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand.
Messi will be in Zurich today for the 2014 Ballon d’Or ceremony, which sees the Barcelona star vying to win the prestigious individual award for a record-breaking fifth time.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is the firm favourite to receive the accolade for the second consecutive year, while Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is the third player nominated for the award after helping Germany lift the World Cup in Brazil last summer.