Barcelona FC midfielder Sergio Busquets has become the latest to insist that all is well at the club, dismissing reports of a rift between Argentina forward Lionel Messi and coach Luis Enrique.
Messi raised eyebrows on Monday when he told a news conference at the FIFA Ballon d’Or awards ceremony that he did not know where he would be next year, fuelling speculation he might seek an exit from his boyhood club that began following reports he had fallen out with Luis Enrique.
Messi later clarified the comments and said he had no intention of leaving, and Busquets told a news conference on Tuesday relations between the players and the coach were generally “good”.
“It is a good relationship, of maximum respect, complying with decisions and for me everything is normal,” Busquets said.
He noted that Messi had used a phrase typical among soccer players, that nobody can tell what the future will bring, and underlined the four-times World Player of the Year’s importance to the club.
“He is in charge of his future but for us it is vital that he is here,” Busquets added. “What’s more, he said that he did not want to leave.”
Messi’s apparent dissatisfaction with Luis Enrique’s management style and tactics reportedly prompted talks in recent days with Chelsea and Manchester City on a possible move to the English Premier League, while Catalan television claimed Messi had demanded the coach be sacked.
The 27-year-old, who joined Barca’s academy when he was 13, denied the reports after Sunday’s 3-1 La Liga victory at home to Atletico Madrid, saying they were “lies”.
Messi finished second in the Ballon d’Or vote behind Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who won the award for a third time.
Barca’s next match is a King’s Cup last 16, second leg at Elche on Thursday when they will be protecting a 5-0 lead from last week’s first leg.
They would likely meet Atletico in the quarter-finals after Diego Simeone’s men won their first leg at home to holders Real 2-0. Real host Atletico for the return on Thursday.