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Messi follows Chelsea as Barcelona unrest talk grows

ESPN staff
January 6, 2015
Lionel Messi came off the bench during Barcelona's defeat to Real Sociedad © Getty Images

Lionel Messi fuelled speculation that he is unhappy at Barcelona after he missed an open training session on Monday and began following Chelsea's official account on Instagram.

The forward was left out of Barca's starting line-up for the 1-0 defeat to David Moyes' Real Sociedad on Sunday and did not appear at the training session, held in front of thousands of children, the following day.

He later began following Chelsea's account on the picture sharing website, as well as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and defender Filipe Luis.

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Last November, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had to deny claims that he was interested in signing Messi. However, the Argentine's latest movements come with reports that he has fallen out with head coach Luis Enrique.

It capped a weekend of turmoil at the Nou Camp after the Catalan club announced the sacking of director of football Andoni Zubizarreta and his assistant, Carles Puyol, quit.

Zubizarreta had four years in the job and left in the wake of the club losing their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the transfer ban imposed by FIFA regarding the registration of foreign youth players.

The 53-year-old former goalkeeper, who won the European Cup with Barca as a player in 1992, was hired by previous president Sandro Rosell in 2010 after Txiki Begiristain left for Manchester City.

A club statement read: "The FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has decided to terminate as of today the contract of the club's Director of Football, Andoni Zubizarreta.

"The President, in the name of the club, thanks Andoni Zubizarreta for his contribution, dedication and professionalism over the last four years in his role at the head of the club's football area."

Barcelona have yet to announce who will fill the vacancy, but it will not be Zubizarreta's assistant Puyol, who posted a message on his personal Facebook page saying that he was handing in his resignation.

Puyol's statement read: "These three and a half months have given me a chance to see the other side of the club. I have learned a lot, I am very grateful and now I would like to try other things from other vantage points and places.

"I would like to grow on both the personal and professional levels so that in the future I can return to this home and give back all the was given to me during all these unforgettable years.

"I am enormously grateful to all the employees, the management, the president and the leadership for trusting me and helping me during this transition that has not been easy. And to the fans, with whom I felt very close as a player and even closer to since my retirement, I am also grateful.

"I would like to have said goodbye in action but life doesn't always go as planned. I have been very fortunate to feel so loved and that's why I am only saying THANK YOU. Please know that you will always be in my heart."

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