New Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman addressed Lionel Messi’s future as he was presented to the media as the new man in charge of the Catalan giants on Wednesday.
After their disappointment in the Champions League earlier this month, coupled with losing their La Liga crown to rivals Real Madrid and falling short in the Copa del Rey, both Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien have lost their job at the Camp Nou over the past year.
Koeman has now been installed as the man to get the Spanish giants back on the right path, but given the ageing stalwarts in the squad and the cracks that appeared this season given the results on the pitch, it promises to be a complicated task for the Dutchman in his first year at the helm.
Naturally, one of the most important early aspects of his tenure will be whether or not he’ll be able to call upon Barcelona talisman and icon Lionel Messi moving forward, and he made his feelings clear on the matter.
“I don’t know if I have to convince Messi,” he is quoted as saying by AS. “I don’t know if it’s yes or no. Messi is the best player in the world and you want to have him in your team, not the other way around. For my part, as a coach, I love working with Messi because he wins you games. And if you get the performance he has shown, we will be very happy if he wants to stay. But he is a Barça player and has a contract. You have to talk to him, of course, he is the captain. You have to make decisions but hopefully Messi stay here for more years.
“If I say what I am going to say to Messi, it is not necessary to meet him. They are private things between a player and the coach. I want to know what he thinks of Barça, what he thinks of how he wants to continue. And then I am the one who has to make decisions. But, once again, Messi has a one-year contract. But he is such an important player that any team wants him.”
The 33-year-old bagged 31 goals and 26 assists in 44 appearances last season to prove that he still has plenty left in the tank and is capable of leading Barcelona to further success.
However, their failings have come around him and ultimately they have to put the right pieces in place to ensure that there is enough quality in the side to ensure that the Argentine superstar can lead their charge to more trophies in the coming years.
Time will tell if Koeman’s appointment and the plans in place to give him what he needs for next season are enough to convince Messi to stay, but as of yet, he has not suggested anything otherwise publicly at least as Barcelona hope a new cycle of success is about to begin under their former defensive stalwart.