BARCELONA: Lionel Messi, en route to the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich, has denied reports that he in unsettled at Barcelona amid increasing talk of crisis at the club.
Messi helped create goals for Neymar and Luis Suarez before contributing another himself in Sunday night’s 3-1 home win over Atletico de Madrid.
Inbetween he also conceded a penalty – for the first time in his senior career – with a trip on Jesus Gamez. Mario Mandzukic converted the kick for Atletico’s consolation goal.
Barcelona thus moved one point ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga though the world and European champions have a game in hand.
Messi denied that he had demanded the dismissal of coach Luis Enrique and added: “I have no intentions of leaving for any team, not Chelsea nor Manchester City.
“I’m tired of all the things that people have been saying. I didn’t ask the club to fire anyone.
“People make it out as if I run the club and that’s not how it is. I don’t ask anyone to make decisions. Everything that has been said is lies and I want people to know that.
“Everything that has been said is lies and I want people to know that. Everything that has been said is false.
“People say these things because they want to cause us harm. It hurts because it came from Barca people. We must be united.”
In France Alexandre Lacazette continued his remarkable run of form with two goals which inspired Lyon to beat Toulouse 3-0 and go top of the table.
The France striker scored after 14 and 27 minutes – his 18th and 19th league goals of the season – to capitalise on weekend defeats for previous leaders Marseille and champions Paris Saint-Germain.
In Italy veteran Roma captain Francesco Totti scored twice to haul the Serie A title challengers back from two goals down against derby rivals Lazio and earn a 2-2 draw.
Elsewhere a dramatic volley by Paul Pogba set front-runners Juventus on the way to a 3-1 win at Napoli which extended their lead to three points while Cagliari gave Gianfranco Zola his first Serie A win as coach in beating bottom club Cesena 2-1.