Lionel Messi insists he is staying at Barcelona and has hit out at “lies” linking him with a move to the Barclays Premier League.
Stories have circulated in the Spanish press in recent weeks of Barca being in crisis with claims that many players, including Messi, were unhappy with coach Luis Enrique’s tactics and coaching methods.
That led to speculation that Messi’s stellar career at the Nou Camp could be coming to an end with big spending Chelsea and Manchester City both linked with potential bids for the Argentina international.
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu responded to those reports by insisting that Messi and Luis Enrique were going nowhere while Chelsea assistant coach Steve Holland also poured cold water on the possibility of a move to Stamford Bridge.
And now Messi has spoken out, criticising those he feels are out to unsettle the Catalan giants.
“I don’t demand anything for me to stay because I have no intention of leaving anywhere,” he told Barca TV.
“I’ve heard stories I’ve spoken to Chelsea or City, that’s all lies.”
He added: “I’ve heard so many things. There have been things said in the past that I have bad relationships with (Pep) Guardiola, (Samuel) Eto’o, Bojan, Ibra (Zlatan Ibrahimovic), that’s not true.
“I never asked for them to get rid of the coach or anybody. That’s not true, I would never do that.
“It’s a bit bad because the stories came from here in Barcelona from people who are supposed to be supporters of the club, not from Madrid as in other times, people who want to damage the club.
“More than ever we have to be united
“They try to make out that I run the club, I’m just another player in the squad like my team-mates. I don’t make decisions, I don’t want to make decisions.”
Messi was speaking after leading his side to a convincing 3-1 win over title rivals Atletico Madrid.
He helped create Neymar’s opener and Luis Suarez’s goal before half-time, before scoring the third late on and killing off Atleti’s hopes of a comeback after Mario Mandzukic’s penalty – which Messi had conceded after tripping Jesus Gamez.
His attentions will now turn to the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Zurich on Monday but the four-time winner admitted his chances of picking up the prestigious award for a fifth time were slim.
“Being realistic, I think it will be difficult,” conceded Messi, who is one of the three finalists along with Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
“We are going to enjoy the gala.
“Cristiano Ronaldo and Neuer have both had fantastic years. One has won the Cup and the Champions League and scored lots of goals, the other has had a great year winning the World Cup.”