BUENOS AIRES/BARCELONA: Leo Messi has joined the long queue of South American footballers to use the gift of distance to take a swipe at his European club writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Fellow Argentinian Carlos Tevez and Uruguayan Luis Suarez have capitalised on the security of a visit home to talk freely in the past about Manchester City and Liverpool respectively.
Messi’s outburst, in a radio interview with RAC1, is notable because he has established an image for being diplomatically cautious with his words to the media.
The World Player of the Year is back in South America during his recovery from a hamstring injury. He had been provoked by a comment from Barcelona’s finance director Javier Faus that “we cannot keep improving his contract every six months.”
Messi fired back: “Faus has no idea about football. He wants to run Barcelona as a business but it is much more than that. Barcelona are the best club in the world and deserve to be represented by the best directors in the world.”
He denied that he had pushed for talks over an improvement to his currect contract which runs to 2018. However speculation has been rife that Messi wanted a contract review after the big-money arrival of Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo’s securing of a new deal at Real Madrid.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell – under pressure on various commercial fronts – had appeared open to talks, saying: “The door to our office is always wide open. He has to be the best-paid player in the world because he is the best player on the planet.”
Barcelona have just agreed a four-year contract extension with Andres Iniesta.
Messi, in his radio interview, also defended his father/manager Jorge who has come under pressure first over a tax evasion case and now over allegations of money-laundering links surrounding matches organised by the Friends of Messi foundation.
He said: “I am very close to my father and he will remain the president of my company and foundation. He takes care of these things and I play football and he will continue to do so as long as he wishes.
“I deeply regret what is being said about my father and my Friends foundation because what we do in these games is 100pc beneficial.”