ZURICH -- Ballon d'Or finalist Lionel Messi on Monday fuelled speculation he would consider an exit from his troubled Barcelona club, just one day after saying he had "no intention" of leaving the Camp Nou for Chelsea or Manchester City.
"Well, I'm not sure what's going to happen -- if one day I'll go back to Newell's [Old Boys]. I'm not sure where I'll be next year. I've always said that I'd like to finish my career at Barcelona, play at Newell's, but as Cristiano just said, nobody knows what the future holds -- and much less so in the case of the football world, where everything can change overnight," Messi told reporters as his parting shot during a preliminary news conference for the Ballon d'Or.
Messi seemed to be taking a lead from his long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who had just said he is happy to stay at Real Madrid but doesn't know what the future holds. Ronaldo and Messi were accompanied fellow Ballon d'Or candidate Manuel Neuer at the conference.
The last week has brought fevered coverage in the Catalan press of an alleged breakdown in relationship between the blaugrana superstar and his first-year coach, with some outlets reporting that Messi had even given club president Josep Maria Bartomeu an ultimatum that Enrique had to go or Messi would leave.
Later in the week, reports surfaced that the 27-year-old could even leave the club this summer, with Chelsea seen as his most likely destination.
Speaking after he had scored and assisted a Luis Suarez goal in a 3-1 win, the Argentine had denied rumours that he was looking to exit the club, telling Barca TV he was fed up with whoever was making such claims.
"It hurts because it comes from people who [supposedly] love Barcelona," said Messi. "It's people who want to hurt the club -- and this time it did not come from Madrid, like other times, it has come from here.
"I have heard lots of things being said about me before and now. They make it look like I am the one who is in charge here when I am just another player. I have never demanded anything to stay because I don't have any intention of going.
"I heard people say that my dad had spoken to Chelsea, to City. It's all lies."