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Luis Enrique Addresses Neymar Ban Rumours, Lionel Messi Injury and More

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2015

FC Barcelona's head coach Luis Enrique attends a press conference at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in San Joan Despi, Spain, Monday, Sept. 28, 2015.  FC Barcelona will play against Bayer Leverkusen during a Champions League Group E on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has reacted angrily to rumours Neymar could be banned for six months following claims by former club Santos regarding the irregularities of his transfer to Camp Nou and also commented on the status of Lionel Messi's recovery from injury.

The Blaugrana coach poured cold water over the Neymar ban claims, saying, per Marca"Six months? Why not make it six years while they're at it?"

Enrique spoke in more depth about Messi, who is slowly working his way back to fitness, saying it is in both the club and country's highest interests the attacker returns when he is back to full fitness and not before, per Marca

My concern is for him to make a good recovery. The key isn't whether he'll be back for a particular match. The pressure from the AFA? They're just rumours. I'm sure that [Argentina boss] Tata Martino and the AFA, like Barca and I, want Messi to make a full recovery.

Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

The Barca boss also confirmed striker Luis Suarez is "100 per cent fit" to face Rayo Vallecano at Camp Nou on Saturday evening as the team looks to get back to winning ways after suffering a defeat to Sevilla in the most recent round of La Liga matches. 

Enrique also spoke about the injury and burnout issues currently facing several members of his squad, referencing Argentina international Javier Mascherano, per Marca:

There are several players in [Mascherano's] situation. He and [Sergio] Busquets are among the players we use the most. I've been trying to find the right time to rest them but for various reasons I've been unable to. It's not like I've got a lot of wiggle room—everyone knows how short-handed we are. 

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The coach said he only has two fit central midfielders available and that many of his team are having to play more minutes than he would like them to at present.

Miguel Angel Morenatti/Associated Press

Enrique capped off his press conference by expressing that he would one day like to manage the Spain national team, admitting he would "love" the chance to take the role, according to Marca

Ed Malyon of the Mirror said the coach could succeed Vicente del Bosque as Spain boss, who is due to leave his post next year. 

Barca need a strong response after an indifferent start to their league title defence, with performances having been below what is expected by their supporters across the world.

The team is packed full of international players, and even in Messi's absence, they should be beating teams of the standing of Sevilla—who have struggled themselves—and Rayo.