Johan Cruyff: Lionel Messi may be annoyed by 'internal' issues at Barca
Johan Cruyff believes internal issues are behind Lionel Messi's apparent unhappiness at Barcelona, and says other big clubs around Europe would be more than happy to pay big money to take advantage of the situation in the summer.
Messi scored a hat trick in Saturday's 5-1 win over Sevilla to become La Liga's record goalscorer, but after the game he refused to talk to reporters seeking for clarification on comments made last week that suggested he could leave the Camp Nou.
The comments have been accompanied by persistent media reports that Messi is tired with being singled out for attention by Spain's tax authorities, and also unhappy with the support he has received from the Camp Nou board regarding the issue.
Former Barca player and coach Cruyff, whose close relationship with former club president Joan Laporta has regularly led to tensions with the current Camp Nou board, told radio show "El Partido de las Doce" that he suspected Messi's relationship with senior club figures was not ideal.
"What I can imagine is that Messi is pretty annoyed with the tax things, because it is something joint with the club, and he is being investigated every three or four years," Cruyff said. "These are disagreeable things that do not worry you too much, but they annoy you. You want to play football, and live happily -- you are content with your football, but there are other things that annoy you.
"[Although] the board always backs him, there are internal things going on, I imagine. I have never heard the board say that Messi needs to look out, or that he is a problem, but maybe internally things are going on that neither you nor I know about."
Cruyff said that Messi, 27, must be able to decide where he plays his football, and choose the club at which he will be most comfortable and able to perform at his best.
"The only person who can make decisions about this matter is Messi himself," he said. "I imagine there will be teams who want to pay 200 million euros for him, but he has no money problems and will not leave just for money. He must be happy playing his football, and I imagine that he likes the football at Barca."
Meanwhile, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's Champions League Group F game at APOEL that it was impossible to put Messi's record-breaking achievements into words, and he just hopes that the Argentina international continues scoring goals at a similar rate for seasons to come.
"There are no words left to describe Messi," Rakitic said. "He is pure football. What he has achieved in this sport is going down in history. I am very proud to be out there with him on the field. I can just congratulate him for what he does, and what he has left to do. He has no ceiling. I hope he stays at our side and scores 200 more."
The Croatia international also backed Messi to win the 2014 Ballon d'Or, despite Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo remaining the strong favourite and additional competition from German World Cup winners such as Manuel Neuer.
"With all respect, this year there are many candidates, but Leo is unique and there will never be another player like him," Rakitic said. "As my national teammate [Mateo] Kovacic said the other day, 'You have to give everything to Leo.'"