Barcelona forward Lionel Messi dodged questions about his future as he picked up the European Golden Shoe award in a ceremony in Spain.
The Argentine was awarded the prize for the fourth time in his glittering career after notching 37 goals last term.
However, rumours about Messi’s future overclouded the ceremony following Ernesto Valverde’s decision to drop the Argentine from his starting XI for a clash against Juventus.
Though Messi was officially being ‘rested’, the 30-year-old is said to be furious at the decision and it’s raised question marks about his future with the Catalans.
Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and, though Barcelona claim terms have been agreed with the Argentine, Messi is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.
Barcelona stars Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets attended the event and faced the press on the way in but Messi arrived via a back exit.
The award’s organisers, Marca, even felt compelled to raise the issue at the beginning of the ceremony.
‘I know that everyone is thinking about the renovation of your contract with Barcelona, but today we are here to pay homage to you and nothing can take the focus away from our precious gala,’ said Marca director Juan Ignacio Gallardo/
‘There will be time to talk about contract renewals later. Today we are speaking about the Golden Boot, delivered by ESM (European Sports Media) and Marca.
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Messi was said to be livid at being dropped for the Juventus clash and he admitted it was a ‘shock’.
‘Every time time I sit on the bench (as he did against Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday) it’s a shock because I don’t usually do it.’ said Messi.
‘I don’t like being out, I like participating, helping from on the pitch, but I also understand the year is long and each day you have to take care of yourself because the seasons get harder and harder.’