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Barcelona boss Luis Enrique fuels tension talk with Lionel Messi

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has fuelled speculation of a ferocious fall-out with star striker Lionel Messi, after speaking to the press ahead of his team’s Copa del Rey clash with Elche.

Enrique’s side (11/2 with Coral to win the Champions League) sit only a point behind Spanish League leaders Real Madrid, but were sensationally stopped by David Moyes’ Real Sociedad in a 1-0 defeat last time out.

When asked if Messi was happy at the Nou Camp, Enrique said: “I don’t want to comment. We know things change and a month is a long time. Things have changed but it is up to you to speak to parties involved. I am as happy as ever here, happier even,”

“I speak to all the players of course I do. I can’t speak individually to every player every day. I have said so many times is there any need to say it again.”

The Spaniard declined to comment on reports that Messi was upset after being left on the substitutes bench for their surprise defeat to Sociedad.

“At the moment it just seems to be negative vibes, nothing positive. I don’t think I should be asked to confirm any or deny any of these rumours. It would stir up more problems than it would solve. Things are going to happen during the season and it is up to us to sort it out,” he added.

“Things that happen between the team and the players will always be kept that. My job is not to discuss the rumours, it is to be first team manager.”

Catalan giants Barca have come under the spotlight, with the club having recently announced the departure of director of football Andoni Zubizarreta after terminating his contract, while his assistant Carles Puyol also quit his role.

Reports have suggested Enrique could soon follow, but the Nou Camp coach is adamant that his job is safe.

“I am always in contact with the president. They have not given me any ultimatum. I am going into the Elche game with the same confidence as ever,” he said. “I feel motivated and am thinking about the things we can improve. I have the same faith in my players as ever.”