Ronald Koeman admits he is ‘not confident’ Lionel Messi will be at Barcelona next season with the Nou Camp star in the final months of his £492MILLION deal at the cash-strapped Spanish giants
- Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi has endured a tumultuous year at the Nou Camp
- He pushed to leave in the summer of 2020 but eventually stayed put in Spain
- Boss Ronald Koeman is hopeful but not confident that Messi will stay
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has admitted he is not confident that Lionel Messi will remain at the Nou Camp beyond the end of the season.
Messi was pushing to leave Barcelona last summer when Koeman was appointed as manager but, amid a bitter public feud between the player and the club he has been at since he was a boy, decided to stay for the final year of his contract.
The details of his deal were leaked by Spanish publication El Mundo at the weekend and claimed that Messi’s overall deal will end up costing Barcelona a staggering £492million.
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman ‘is not confident’ that Lionel Messi will stay at Barcelona
Koeman says he has a good relationship with Messi, whose deal is up at the end of the season
Messi has scored 16 goals in 24 games so far for Barcelona, who are second in LaLiga
With Barcelona cash-strapped as they continue to count the cost of the Covid-19 pandemic, Koeman is fearful that Messi will join a new club later this year.
‘I’m not confident about that,’ Koeman told The Athletic when asked if he thinks Messi will stay. ‘I’m hopeful, yes, about this because he’s still a great player and he’s still winning matches for us, for the team.
‘I’m enjoying being his coach, if you look at his qualities every day in the training sessions, it’s incredible. Of course, he came as a young kid to Barcelona. And I still don’t see Leo Messi in another shirt other than the Barca shirt.’
Koeman arrived as manager while the feud between Messi and the club was heating up and the Dutchman revealed he worked hard to place himself outside of that dispute in a bid to convince Messi to stay for the current 2020-21 season.
‘I spoke to him in his house before we started the season and I made plans with him and he was really enthusiastic,’ Koeman said. ‘I knew that he had some problems with the club and I was out of that.
‘I said to Leo, “I’m really happy if you stay. If you don’t stay, it’s your decision and it’s what you have to handle with the club. If you stay, you will be part of the team and this will be your position to get all the best out of yourself.”
‘Little by little, he accepted that situation. And look how he is playing in the last few weeks, he is really involved in the club, in the team. But, nobody knows what will happen in the future.’
Pictures of Messi looking dejected at Barcelona have become more common in recent years
Manager Koeman says he cannot imagine Messi in a shirt other than the Barcelona one
Messi has, as ever, been in splendid form this season and has scored 16 goals in 24 games to date for Barcelona.
Should he depart the Nou Camp in the summer, Manchester City would be expected to reignite their interest in the Argentina star.
Pep Guardiola’s side held an interest in swooping for Messi last summer before he decided to stay in Spain.
Barcelona are currently second in LaLiga, 10 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid who also have a game in hand.
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