Luis Enrique expects Messi to stay with Barcelona ‘for many years’

Coach plays down any talk of a rift between the pair

 Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi celebrate a goal against Atletico Madrid during the La Liga clash at the Camp Nour. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi celebrate a goal against Atletico Madrid during the La Liga clash at the Camp Nour. Photo: Albert Gea/Reuters

 

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique expects Lionel Messi to remain with the club “for many years” amid widespread reports of a rift between the pair.

Messi was said to be unhappy with Luis Enrique’s management style and tactics, prompting speculation he could seek an exit and reportedly sparking interest from sides Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

The Argentina forward has said he is not planning to leave the club he joined as a 13-year-old but has not explicitly denied claims he has fallen out with the coach, who took over from Gerardo Martino at the end of last season.

Given the four-times World Player of the Year’s influence at Barca, it is widely expected Luis Enrique could be the one to leave, particularly as the man who appointed him, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, was sacked this month.

“We all think – and he has expressed the same thing several times – that Leo is going to stay at Barca for many years,” said Luis Enrique.

“That is what all of us want,” added the former Barca and Spain midfielder. I don’t see why – well, I do but I don’t understand why – there is so much talk about it when we are not even considering it.”

Luis Enrique said Barca’s dressing room was united.

“We are all together. We discuss things we can improve and how we can damage our opponents, as always. A normal and logical dynamic for any soccer team.”

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo’s son Cris junior is a Lionel Messi fan the boy’s father told the Argentina captain at the Ballon D’Or ceremony in Zurich on Monday.

Ronaldo told Messi: “He watches a video on the internet of all of us and he talks about you,” prompting a coy reaction from his son.

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