Bartomeu rubbishes Messi pact

Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu has rubbished a report which claimed he told Lionel Messi that he would replace Luis Enrique with Frank Rijkaard.

Speculation went into overdrive last night with TV3’s claim that the patron had informed the Argentine in confidence he would sack the Coach after Sunday’s encounter with Atletico Madrid, with the pair's relationship believed to have broken down completely.

In a further twist, the No 10 is understood to have requested the return of the Dutchman, who led Barca to two La Liga titles and a Champions League between 2003 and 2008, but Bartomeu insists none of this is the case.

“When I landed [in New York], I read the news, and it’s completely false. Nobody asked me to fire anyone,” he said after landing in New York for a Unicef event.

“I went to the dressing room as always, of course, but what TV3 said was false. I spoke with Leo, Neymar, Adriano, Luis Enrique [after the Elche game]…

“We know nothing about election dates. We have enough time to assess the best date. What we want is to lower the tension which has been experienced by the club for some time.

“We wanted to hold out until 2016, but seeing how the tension escalated, we decided to give a voice to the socios [earlier].

“Leo is happy at Barcelona and the best player in the world. He’s been at club for many years and is very motivated about having a great season with the rest of his teammates.

“A few weeks ago it was PSG, now it’s the English. He’s doing a great job, he’s our leader and we’re very happy with him.

“The team are very focused on beating Atletico Madrid.”

Tags Barca Frank Rijkaard Josep Maria Bartomeu Lionel Messi Luis Enrique