Messi's 'Barca exit comments' played down

Messi said if it was up to him, he would want to stay at Barca, but the situation was complicated.

Barcelona's Leo Messi. Picture: Official Barcelona Twitter account: @FCBarcelona

BARCELONA - Lionel Messi's father Jorge has sought to play down comments his son made this week which suggested the four-times World Player of the Year could consider leaving Barcelona.

Messi said in an interview published in Ole newspaper on Tuesday if it was up to him he would stay at the club he joined as a 13-year-old for his entire career.

However, he added that "sometimes not everything happens in the way you would like" and said the situation was "complicated".

"The thought is to stay here in Barcelona," Jorge was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia on Wednesday.

"But as people read between the lines there is exaggeration," he added.

"It's clear that if tomorrow the club says to you 'we have this offer, we want to sell you', it would have to be studied. Although right now it is not even on the agenda."

Messi has not been at his scintillating best over the past 18 months and, along with his father, has also had problems with the Spanish tax authorities.

Now 27, Messi probably has at least five years left at the top of the game and if the right offer was made, likely to be a world record fee in excess of £80 million, it is not inconceivable Barca could cash in or he could himself decide to leave.

Barca have a new coach this season in former Spain midfielder Luis Enrique, who replaced the discarded Gerardo Martino, now Messi's coach for Argentina.

They are second in La Liga, two points behind Real Madrid after 11 matches, and have qualified for the Champions League knockout round.