Whispers that the Argentine star could depart Camp Nou when his contract expires next summer have not been dismissed by the head coach
Under pressure Barcelona boss Quique Setien has refused to comment on Lionel Messi’s future at the club.
After a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid in midweek – a result that means Barca now trail rivals Real Madrid by four points at the top of the Primera Division – reports surfaced that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has threatened to leave the club.
Although the source of Messi’s displeasure appears to be president Josep Maria Bartomeu, the prospect of seeing the Spanish title fall into the capital side’s hands will only have increased his irritation and as a result has sparked talk he could depart in a year’s time, when his contract at Camp Nou will expire.
Some pundits have said this is simply a ploy to try to unsettle the player but Setien would not be drawn into discussing his key man.
“I am not going to speculate on this because I have not heard him say anything about it and it is not my task,” he told the media.
“I see him well, Leo. The rest is speculation that I do not even enter into. That’s what you, the press, are there for. I see him training well, and [nothing] more.”
Despite Barcelona’s struggles, which are set to see Setien fired at the end of the campaign unless he wins either La Liga or the Champions League, Messi has enjoyed another prolific season, scoring 22 goals and laying on another 18 in just 28 league outings.
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Former Camp Nou favourite Rivaldo has said that Messi could be a hit in the Premier League, suggesting that a reunion with former coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City would be a mouth-watering prospect for the 33-year-old Argentine, who has spent his whole career with Barca.
Since joining the club as a youth player in 2001, he has become an icon with the side, featuring in 724 matches and scoring 630 goals and is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Among his honours with Barcelona, he has picked up four Champions League titles and three Club World Cups. Additionally, he has led the club to 10 Primera Division titles.