Leo Messi: I don't know where I will be next year
Lionel Messi has cast fresh doubt on his future at Barcelona by choosing the global showcase of Fifa’s Ballon d’Or award to say: “I don’t know where I’ll be next year.”
Messi’s answer to a question about whether he would like to extend his career CV beyond Newell’s Old Boys and Barcelona surprised a packed media conference here in Zurich. Thoroughly bland up to that point, Messi unexpectedly veered off into a discussion about his future at an event that is broadcast around the world.
“I am not sure If I will go back to Newells Old Boys one day. I am not sure where I will be next year,” Messi said. “I have always said I will end my career at Barcelona but as Cristiano said, only God knows the future. Things in football can change overnight.”
There is a temptation to over-interpret answers at these ceremonies but few in the room doubted that Messi was looking to make a point on this global stage, 24 hours after he had attemped to reassure Barcelona fans on the club’s own TV channel.
After Sunday’s 3-1 win over Atletico Madrid, Messi said: "I haven't asked for anything to stay here because I have never wanted to go anywhere else.” This was a reference to reports that he has asked for coach Luis Enrique to be sacked.
"I have also heard that my father has spoken to Chelsea and City but it's all lies," he continued. “There have been stories that I had bad relationships with [Pep] Guardiola, [Samuel] Eto'o, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic and Bojan [Krkic], that I have got rid of people.
"That is in no way true. I never asked for them to get rid of the coach or anyone else. There is no rivalry between Luis Enrique and me. I am tired of hearing things about me. They say that I run the club when I am just another player. I don't make those decisions, nor have I asked them to be made.
"It hurts because (the stories) have come from the Barcelona-based media and not from Madrid. There are people who want to damage the club and it's important that now more than ever we are united because there are important things ahead."
That passionate speech calmed things down until he arrived in Zurich with only an outside chance of winning the Ballon d’Or and said “things can change overnight.” The alternative would have been to shut the question down with a refusal to countenance life beyond Barcelona.