Luis Enrique plays down Lionel Messi 'refusal to be substituted'

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said "what happened can be interpreted in many ways" after footage broadcast by Spanish TV channel La Sexta appeared to show Barcelona star Lionel Messi refusing to be substituted during the 3-0 win over Eibar at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Images of the 76th-minute incident show Enrique shouting to Messi and gesturing towards the bench after the Argentine had scored his side's third.

But Messi appeared to refuse to be replaced by Munir El Haddadi, with Neymar becoming the player to make way instead.

Messi's goal left him one short of the all-time La Liga scoring record of 351 strikes and Enrique, quoted by AS, said: "Before making changes, we generally ask the players and we make the decision afterwards.

"What happened can be interpreted many ways, depending on who it serves. I will carry on doing what I have been doing.

"I have to take everything into account, but I trust in how he feels and what he tells me.

"Sometimes I look around me on the bench and think how lucky we are to have Messi. For us it is not just about what he does on the pitch. He is also a great motivator for his teammates."

Looking ahead to his side's Champions League game against Ajax on Monday, Enrique warned that Barcelona would need to ensure that the Dutch side were "not allowed to show off their qualities -- and they have a lot."

AS reported him as saying: "Last season, they made life difficult. They beat Barcelona and they are without doubt a difficult team to play against. They know how to hurt you on the counter and have all the qualities to play well here."

He said Sergio Busquets, who did not play against Eibar because of "a technical decision" would be available to face Ajax "as things stand."

And he added that Barca were not thinking about Saturday's clasico against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, explaining: "The obsession is this [the Ajax] game. The others don't exist.

"The only game we are thinking about is Ajax, and gaining the points we need to get through."

However, Enrqiue added that former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, who could make his debut "displays a lot of joy at being at Barca" and said: "He is in good shape for the day when he will play alongside his teammates."