Lionel Messi hints at uncertainty over Barcelona future beyond summer
Lionel Messi has hinted that he could leave Barcelona next summer, appearing to suggest in an interview that some at the Camp Nou would be prepared to let him go.
Messi, 27, seemed to have speculation over his future by agreeing a new deal in May, increasing his salary to a reported 20 million euros a year.
That seemed to quash long-running reports of problems between the player's camp and the Barca hierarchy, stretching back over a season in which he missed large chunks of time due to a persistent muscle injury.
Speaking to Argentine newspaper Ole -- in language interpreted by some in the Madrid-based media to mean he is thinking of leaving Barca at the end of this season -- Messi said he was focusing on the ongoing campaign and would then see what came next.
"At the moment, I am living in the present," he told the paper. "I am thinking about having a great year and winning the trophies we want at Barcelona -- nothing else.
"Later, we will see. In football, things change all the time. Although I have always said I would like to stay there forever, sometimes everything does not always go as you want."
The way in which Messi's new contract was finalised last May -- with his camp releasing a statement suggesting he could leave if the "people" at Barcelona were not happy with him only hours before it was signed -- did not quash suspicions that relations had not fully healed.
Pushed to clarify whether he felt he was being forced out at Barcelona, Messi again suggested a change could happen while appearing to say that continuing boardroom uncertainty at the club was a factor.
"I have said it many times," he said. "If it were for me, I would stay forever. But as I said before, everything does not always come out as you want -- even more in football, which changes so much and in which so many things can happen.
"It is complicated, even more given what is happening today at Barcelona."
However, Messi said: "[Barca] is a very big club, and when you lose two games in a row problems begin to come, criticism comes out from all sides. A new coach came, with new ideas, and that takes time.
"We have players who are more than good enough to do big things this year, and I am relaxed about it. This has just begun. There is still a long way to go in La Liga and the Champions League, so I am not worried."
Renewed speculation over Messi's future is likely to increase pressure on Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, with former chief Joan Laporta among the most vocal critics of the present regime.
Clubs including Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and even Real Madrid have previously been mentioned as possible new destinations for four-time Ballon d'Or winner.