Messi says tax problems made him want to leave Barcelona

Barcelona did sign Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, despite him rejecting the Catalans the year before. Messi denies suggestions of a rift between him and the Frenchman. 

“The first year when we wanted to sign Griezmann, I said he was one of the best and that the best are always welcome,” Messi said. “I have never had problem with him coming. So it’s a lie.” 

Messi also offered his support to Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, who has been under pressure after a bumpy start to the season followed the team’s Champions League collapse against Liverpool in May. 

“It was not the coach’s fault but it was also not my decision for him to stay,” Messi said. “The club decided Valverde would continue and for me that was a joy, good for stability and he is a coach we support and love. 

“If another coach comes, we will be with him. To achieve success, we all have to be united.” 

Messi scored his first goal of the season in a 4-0 thrashing of Sevilla on Sunday, after two months spoiled by calf and thigh injuries. 

“I’m still a bit short but I’m feeling better,” Messi said. “My legs hurt against Sevilla but it’s what happens when you come back. I’m getting closer.” 

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