8 Jan 2015

Barcelona facing Messi situation

11:20 am on 8 January 2015

Senior members of Barcelona's squad met with Lionel Messi on Wednesday to discuss the Argentinian's dissatisfaction with coach Luis Enrique.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Their hope was to prevent a bust-up that could undermine the club's bid for trophies.

Luis Enrique has found himself in the spotlight as the Catalan club struggles to keep pace with Real Madrid and his future could hinge on whether he can patch up his differences with the talismanic Messi.

Xavi and other influential players met with Messi before training in an attempt to smooth the waters.

The four-times World Player of the Year is believed to be unhappy with the no-nonsense style of Luis Enrique and his tactics this season.

But Enrique has described reports of a bust-up with Messi as "inaccurate and ill-intentioned" and said he had the backing of all the players in his squad.

"I have the same relationship with all the players since the start of the season. Obviously we know each other better now but there is no change in the relationship," Enrique says.

"I feel I have the support of the club and the players. I have no doubt about that. I continue my work with the same professionalism as before and I am not here to deny stories."

Barca are second in La Liga, a point behind Real Madrid who have a game in hand.

While still in a good position, the team has failed to function smoothly and too often relied on individual talent to get them out of trouble.

Messi's conflict with Luis Enrique stepped up a level last Friday when they were reported to have almost come to blows during a training session.

The player was then angry at being left out of the starting lineup two days later for the clash with Real Sociedad.

Messi had only returned on Friday from his Christmas break in Argentina and the coach felt that he was not ready.

The decision to leave him and Neymar on the bench backfired with the team losing 1-0 and there was reported to have been another heated exchange between the pair in the dressing room after the match.

On Monday, Messi failed to attend a training session open to the public and a festive hospital visit to see sick children due to illness.

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