Call elections one year early at end of La Liga season and club insist Luis Enrique has NOT been given an ultimatum
- Barcelona have warned Chelsea that Lionel Messi is NOT for sale
- Barca have avoided a fan protest by calling elections one year early
- Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu will stand as one of the candidates
- ‘Leo Messi has a contract here that was recently renewed. We are calm about the situation,’ insists Bartomeu
- Bartomeu sacked Sporting Director Andoni Zubizerreta for a lack of confidence but has backed manager Luis Enrique
Barcelona have warned Chelsea that Lionel Messi is not for sale and called forward elections that were not due for another year in a further show of instability.
Club president Josep Bartomeu will stand as one of the candidates at the end of the current season and former president Joan Laporta is expected to stand against him.
Asked about Messi, Bartomeu said: ‘Leo Messi has a contract here that was recently renewed. We are calm about the situation.’
Barcelona have warned Chelsea that Lionel Messi is not for sale and that he will not leave the Nou Camp
Messi started on the bench against Real Sociedad and is understood to have fallen out with Luis Enrique
Enrique has been increasingly under pressure as Barcelona manager following their latest 1-0 defeat
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu says the club are ‘calm’ about Messi’s situation and Enrique’s job
Bartomeu sacked Andoni Zubizerreta because confidence had been lost but has backed Enrique as manager
MESSI TO CHELSEA? HERE’S A HINT
Messi followed Chelsea on Instagram on Monday
Lionel Messi set tongues wagging about a possible move to Chelsea on Monday.
But the current Barcelona president would ‘not speculate’ on what the player would decide if another club came in with a £196million offer.
Such a bid would meet Messi’s buy-out clause and oblige the club to sell if it was the player’s will to leave the Nou Camp.
‘I speak with Messi regularly,’ Bartomeu insisted.
‘We don’t go for coffee together but I am in contact with him and from what I see on the pitch he is happy at the club.
‘He is our leader and as I have said before we want to build the team around him.
‘He is playing as well this season as he was last season.’
The comments about Messi’s demeanour on the pitch do not reflect the 27-year-old’s body language in recent matches, but Bartomeu insisted his most important player is satisfied.
The Barca president continued by insisting any tension between Luis Enrique and the player should remain in the dressing room.
And Bartomeu refused to comment on why Messi decided tofollow Chelsea on Instagram on Monday – the same day he failed to train – amid suggestions of a fallout with the coach.
Barcelona manager Enrique has been under pressure after rumours of a fallout with Messi at the Nou Camp
Enrique was straight-faced when he arrived for his press conference previously amid doubts about his future
Messi shakes hand with opposing manager David Moyes after the final whistle in San Sebastian on Sunday
THE BARCELONA SACK RACE
Andoni Zubizarreta (left) unveils £75m Luis Suarez
Barcelona sacked Andoni Zubizarreta as their sporting director on Monday.
‘I’m sure a lot of clubs would love to have Messi but he is our player,’ he added.
Bartomeu said he sacked Andoni Zubizerreta because confidence was lost in the sporting director but backed Enrique, insisting the 44-year-old was still the man for the job.
He denied the manager wanted to fine Messi for not training on Monday and refuted claims he had given the coach two games to keep his job.
Enrique himself was previously forced to deny he had received an ultimatum after their 1-0 defeat against David Moyes’s Real Sociedad and an apparent fallout with Messi, who started on the substitutes’ bench.
Enrique refused to comment on rumours of a row with Messi but said: ‘I have not received any ultimatum, if I had it would have been the first time in my short career, but I have not.
‘I am not here to deny or confirm any of these stories. My job is to coach the first team. We are still in all the competitions and I am optimistic about the rest of the season.’
AS splash on their back page with ‘Messi drives Barca to despair’ while Marca opt with ‘Barca fall apart’
Total crisis! The back page of Spanish publication Sport on Tuesday – while it says Messi is ‘p***** off’
Messi has been linked with joining Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea after a reported row with Barca manager Enrique
BARCELONA’S NEXT FIVE GAMES
January 8: Elche (h) – Copa del Rey
January 11: Atletico Madrid (h) – La Liga
January 15: Elche (a) – Copa del Rey
January 18: Deportivo (a) – La Liga
January 24: Elche (a) – La Liga
There have been accusations Enrique has lost the Barcelona dressing room and that he has two games to save his job against Elche in the Copa del Rey and Atletico Madrid in La Liga.
‘I have the same relationship with him (Messi) as when I joined the club, and it’s the same as with all the players,’ he continued.
‘Coaches always depend on results but I do feel backed by the players and by the board.
‘I have nothing to be sorry for in terms of how I treat the players. I am piloting the ship as I see fit. And I’m not going to comment on all the stories that have come out in the last couple of days.’
Asked if he talks to Messi on a daily basis, he said: ‘I talk to all the players. He is the best player in the world but I have said that so many times I don’t need to repeat it.’
Enrique takes some time out as he sits on a football during a Barcelona training session on Monday
The club legend also fell out with players, notably Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, at Roma
Enrique: ‘I have the same relationship with him as when I joined the club and it’s the same with all the players’
SHOULD ENRIQUE BE GIVEN TIME?
Luis Enrique is a club legend at Barcelona and a highly respected young coach, but after falling out with Lionel Messi there is usually only one direction for a manager at the Nou Camp. Plus there’s his history at Real Madrid…
Sporting Gijon: 1989-91 (36 apps 14 goals)
Real Madrid: 1991-96 (157 apps 15 goals)
Barcelona: 1996-04 (207 apps 73 goals)
Spain: 1991-02 (62 apps 12 goals)
Barcelona B: 2008-11
La Liga: 1994–95, 1997–98, 1998–99
Copa del Rey: 1992–93, 1996–97, 1997–98
Supercopa de Espana: 1993, 1996
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1996–97
UEFA Super Cup: 1997
Source : Daily Mail