Lionel Messi to Chelsea: Luis Enrique claims backing from Barcelona players as row continues

Player and manager were reported to have argued in training last Friday and again after Sunday's defeat at Real Sociedad

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The Independent Football

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has described reports of a rift with Lionel Messi as “inaccurate and ill intentioned” and said he has the backing of all the players in his squad.

Reports of heated exchanges between the pair have been widely aired in Spain, while rumours of a move to Chelsea have grown. A Catalan radio station has said the London club have contacted the player’s father and agent Jorge and would be prepared to pay a €250m (£196m) buyout clause, although this is denied by sources at Stamford Bridge.

Senior members of Barcelona’s squad met Messi before training today to discuss his dissatisfaction with Enrique, who took the job in May but has struggled to keep pace with Real Madrid.

“I have the same relationship with all the players,” Enrique said at a press conference. “We know each other better now but there is no change in the relationship. I have the support of the club and the players. I continue my work with  professionalism and I am not here to deny stories.”

Messi and Enrique were reported to have argued in training last Friday and again after Sunday’s defeat at Real Sociedad, when the player was unhappy about being left out of the starting line-up.

Enrique felt Messi was not ready to start, having only returned to training on Friday. On Monday he failed to attend a training session.