Lionel Messi remains non-committal of Barcelona future amid reports
Lionel Messi has admitted he could one day leave Barcelona — just hours after calling transfer rumors "all lies."
Messi gave an interview to Barca's television channel on Sunday and specifically addressed reports linking him with Chelsea and Manchester City, even going as far as to say: "I have no intention of leaving anywhere."
But the Argentina star sounded less certain when discussing his future ahead of Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, where he was in contention to win the award for a fifth time.
Asked whether he might one day return to hometown club Newell's Old Boys, Messi said: "I'm not sure what's going to happen -- if one day I'll go back to Newell's. I'm not sure where I'll be next year! I've always said I'd like to finish my career at Barcelona, play at Newell's, but nobody knows what the future holds -- much less so in the case of the football world where so many things can change overnight."
Ballon d'Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo, sitting alongside Messi and Manuel Neuer at a question-and-answer session for the three nominees, was equally non-committal when asked about his Real Madrid future. Spanish football expert Graham Hunter says he cannot see Messi leaving Barcelona and believes the latest comments are likely part of a ploy to gain more influence at the club.
"He in is in the middle of the powerplay at the moment, he is not completely happy with the team's level of competitiveness and he has some difficulties with the man-management style of (Barcelona head coach) Luis Enrique," Hunter told Sky Sports News HQ. "He is showing he is a mature player now and all he has to do is cough, nudge and hint and things happen. I don't believe that he wants to leave, I do believe he wants to influence the club in how it's run to make it more competitive."
Speaking after scoring in a 3-1 defeat of La Liga champions Atletico Madrid on Sunday night, Messi told Barca TV: "I never demanded anything to stay, as I have no intention of leaving. It is not good to look for rivalry between Luis Enrique and me, because there is none."
He added: "We must be more united than ever. They should not throw sh*t at us. We just want to achieve things for the club. It is said that my father spoke with Man City, with Chelsea. It's all lies, it's all lies."