I never asked Barça to replace coach – Messi

2015-01-12 09:34

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Lionel Messi did everything he could to put end to Barcelona’s most serious club crisis in years.

First he scored one goal and set up two more in a 3-1 win over Atlético Madrid yesterday, before denying a swarm of rumours swirling around the star forward.

Stifled by Atlético in six winless meetings last season, Messi first shredded the defending champion’s vaunted defence with run after run, passing for Neymar to score in the 12th minute and for Luis Suárez to double the lead at Camp Nou in the 35th.

He then made up for committing a penalty that led to Mario Mandžukic scoring from the spot in the 57th by scoring three minutes from time for his 25th goal in as many games this season.

And after giving Barcelona control of second place at one point behind Real Madrid, Messi gave a rare interview where he put to bed an entire set of rumours following a tumultuous week for the Catalan club that included the firing of its sports director and its president calling for early elections this summer.

Messi denied media reports that he had asked for coach Luis Enrique to be fired and that his father, who acts as his agent, had spoken to Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester City about a possible transfer.

“I wanted to give my version after hearing so many things,” Messi told Barcelona’s club television.

“I have never asked that they replace a coach, and I never would. This hurts. And it comes from people who want to hurt the club.

“I have heard many things, both before and now, that make it look like I run the club. I am a player. I don’t make decisions and I don’t want to.”

As big as his performance was on the pitch, Messi’s appearance on club television will likely do more to settle down the club’s fans and relieve pressure on Enrique.

The coach, however, didn’t think even this big win would open a new chapter for the team.

“Without a doubt, wins are the only thing that can calm this wave,” said Enrique.

“All wins reinforce the team, but these are three points, nothing more. When we lose again the tension will come back. It is inevitable.”

Atlético, in third, fell four points behind Madrid, who have a game in hand.

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