Despite recent rumors of trouble behind the scenes, Barcelona manager Luis Enrique believes he has the full support of his players.
Speaking to the assembled media ahead of Sunday’s La Liga title chase showdown with Atletico Madrid (3 pm ET), Enrique said as much, but admitted if the day comes where he doesn’t feel that is the case, he’ll quit as manager of one of the world’s biggest clubs.
“I give 100 percent everyday,” said Enrique. “But I assure that I will quit if my players don’t follow me, and that hasn’t happened during my career as a coach.”
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Much of the recent turmoil surrounds Enrique’s reportedly strained relationship with Barca superstar Lionel Messi, whom Enrique elected to start on the bench before last week’s 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad. Messi was said to be furious over the benching, which only further fueled and fanned transfer rumor flames that have been swirling for weeks now.
Messi missing training on New Year’s Day due to an “upset stomach,” a detail which has reportedly been refuted by Barca midfielder Xavi, hasn’t done anything to quiet whispers that the Argentine could force a move away from the only club he’s ever represented professionally.
Following a stretch of three league games in which they’ve won just four points, Barca currently sit second in La Liga, four points behind Real Madrid and ahead of Sunday’s opponent only through goal differential.