Ronald Koeman has admitted he has no idea if Lionel Messi will be leaving Barcelona next summer and said it was not his job to persuade the Argentine to stay. Messi tried to leave Barcelona this summer before stepping back. He can talk to other clubs in January and leave for free when his contract expires in June, with Manchester City having to make another attempt to lure the 33-year-old away from Camp Nou. “Messi still has a contract and in my opinion he should stay here,” Koeman said at a press conference on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s decisive La Liga game at Atletico Madrid.
“But I’m not the person who has to try to keep him here. We’ll see his future, anyway, he’s a Barcelona player. Nobody knows what’s going to happen with Messi’s future.”
After returning from a 3-hour trip to Barcelona on Wednesday morning after his international service, the frustrated Messi was faced with questions about his relationship with French striker Antoine Griezmann.
A former Griezmann agent had claimed Messi was difficult to play at Barca, to which Messi said: “I’m tired of always being the problem with everything at the club.”
When the comments were directed to Koeman, he said: “I can understand why Leo was pissed off. People should show a lot more respect to people like Lionel Messi.”
“After such a long journey, asking Messi about Antoine is disrespectful, once again to create controversy.”
“I didn’t see any issues between them, neither in the locker room nor on the training ground. There are enough photos to show that they work well together.”
“Someone said something and someone hasn’t been a Griezmann customer for three years. That’s bullshit.”
Messi was one of many returning from long trips to play for their country, and Koeman complained that the La Liga schedule puts Barcelona up against Atletico Madrid at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday.
“And then we have to play Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday night,” Koeman said. “It doesn’t help the big teams or the players.”
Barcelona will be without injured Sergio Busquets and Ansu Fati at Wanda Metropolitano while Atletico’s Luis Suarez will be denied the chance to face his former club, after testing positive for coronavirus.
Atletico will be nine points ahead of Barca if they win, but Diego Simeone’s side haven’t beaten the Catalans in La Liga since 2010.
“It’s an important game and we want to get a good result, but La Liga is very long and a lot can happen,” Koeman said.
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