LIONEL MESSI admitted he “doesn’t know” whether he will leave Barcelona but will do “what is best” for himself and the club.
The Catalan giants’ skipper could depart at the end of the season when his contract expires, after initially expressing his desire to quit the Nou Camp last summer before making a dramatic U-turn.
Speaking to Spanish journalist Jordi Evole in a wide-ranging interview with Spanish TV station La Sexta, Messi – who can start talking to other clubs from January 1 – said: “I don’t have anything clear until the end of the year.
“Now I am only thinking about finishing the season and winning titles.
“I know there are a lot of people at Barca who still love me, but I’m going to do what is best for the club and for myself.
“Besides, I want to live in Barcelona and be involved in the club in some way when I retire.
“I don’t know if I’m going to leave, but if I do, I would like to leave in the best way possible and be able to return to the club in the future.
“Barcelona are much bigger than any player. I hope that every time the club have to, they will do good things to lift important titles.”
When pushed on “very bad” Barcelona’s slow start to the season under new boss Ronald Koeman, Messi confessed it will be “difficult” for them to return to their best but he will “fight for everything“.
He added: “I’m excited even though the club is going through difficult times. These are difficult times, as for everyone.
“The club is really bad, very bad, it will be difficult to get back to where we were.”
Messi revealed he does not regret filing his transfer request in the summer and explained what was going through his head.
He said: “It was far from easy for me to say I wanted to leave the club and the city… the family wanted to stay here, this is their home but I genuinely felt it was time to go.
“Yes [I would send the transfer request again] it was a manner of making a point and expressing my feelings. It was me telling the club that I wanted to leave.
“Luis Suarez’s departure had nothing to do with the decision but I felt it was crazy the way his exit was handled and that Barcelona let him go to a direct rival.”
Messi confirmed he is still in daily contact with close pal Suarez – who moved to Atletico Madrid – and that they share a WhatsApp group with old team-mate Neymar.
He said: “Yes [We have a WhatsApp group], we speak a great deal and I speak to Luis every day.
“Last time I spoke to Neymar was after the Champions League last 16 draw. [when his PSG side drew Barcelona].”