Luis Enrique insists nothing should be read into quotes from Barcelona director Pere Gratacos that suggested Lionel Messi would not be the same player without the likes of Andres Iniesta and Neymar.
Gratacos, speaking at the draw for the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Friday, stressed Messi remained Barca’s shining light but added he relied on his team-mates to showcase his brilliance.
Director of training and education Gratacos said: “Barcelona is not here only because of Messi.
“He’s very important but it was the team who won [against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa in midweek]. Without Neymar, Luis Suarez, Iniesta, [Gerard] Pique and the others, he wouldn’t be such a good player.”
His quotes come just two days after the Liga champions’ chief executive Oscar Grau said Messi’s contract renewal should be “analysed with a cool head and common sense”, before adding “Barca cannot spend more than 70 per cent of the budget on salaries, therefore we have to make sure things balance”.
Gratacos and Grau’s comments have already sparked speculation – most notably in the Madrid press – that Barca are paving the way to sell Messi but Luis Enrique was not interested in fuelling the fire when he addressed the media prior to Saturday’s home game with Las Palmas.
He said: “I am not going to get into this game. Messi is the best, that’s it.
“Everything is skewed. People try to get a story out of Messi but the club has been pretty clear about what it thinks about Lionel Messi.
“We shouldn’t be looking at quotes from people and trying to make a story out of them.”
The former Spain midfielder also urged calm over Messi’s contract renewal, adding: “To renew Messi’s deal you have to be very calm. The timeframe will be set by Messi and the club.”
Suarez grabbed his 100th goal in Barca colours in Wednesday’s victory over Athletic in just his 120th appearance and Luis Enrique was full of praise for the former Liverpool man.
He said: “At first there was talk of him being overweight and not scoring goals, in this world of exaggeration you hear everything. But 100 goals in 120 games is outrageous.
“Those numbers are within the range of very few players and it shows that those who decided to back Luis were not mistaken, both for his goals and his behaviour as a person.”
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