Messi, Ronaldo, Pele or Maradona: Who’s the greatest ever?
Lionel Messi could still leave Barcelona at the end of the season, according to the club’s manager Ronald Koeman. The mercurial Argentinian forward has been at the centre of speculation surrounding his future for some time after it was revealed in the summer that he was looking to exit the Nou Camp.
Messi was ultimately blocked from leaving the club in a long and drawn-out saga, but could finally depart before next season with his Barca contract set to expire at the end of the current campaign.
Manchester City have been named among Messi’s potential suitors alongside French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
Both clubs are likely to jump at the chance to sign the 33-year-old, who is considered by many as the greatest player to ever grace a football pitch.
Koeman has hinted that Messi could be on his way out of the club at the end of the season, revealing that he remains unsure of the forward’s plans for next year and beyond.
However, the Dutch boss also stated that he finds it difficult to imagine life at Barca without him.
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“I’m not confident about that [Messi’s future],” Koeman told The Athletic. “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.
“I don’t have any problems with Leo. He is the captain of the team, I speak to Leo about tactical things and we have a really good professional relationship that I have with all the players.”
Opening up on Messi’s attempts to leave the Spanish giants during the summer, Koeman explained that he felt humiliated after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League quarter-final.
Despite the Argentinian’s initial desire to move on, he was convinced into staying after a personal conversation with Koeman helped him to accept the situation in front of him.
“He was angry about some situations in the club,” said Koeman. “And he was not happy that he was in a team who lost 8-2 against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Champions League. Of course, he was angry, he had to leave, he wanted to leave the team.
“First of all, what I said to the club was, ‘OK, it’s not my problem. It’s a problem between the club and Leo Messi. And you have to resolve that’. Finally, the club said, ‘We don’t make a transfer for him. He needs to stay’. It was a difficult time for Leo but he finally accepted it.
“I spoke to him in his house before we started the season and I made plans with him and he was really enthusiastic. 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.”
A move to City would see Messi reunited with former boss Pep Guardiola after the pair achieved unprecedented levels of success at Barca between 2008 and 2012.
However, if the winger decides to opt for PSG, he would have the opportunity to complete what could be the most dangerous front three in the sport’s recent history alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
It remains to be seen which path Messi will take ahead of next season, although it appears unlikely that he will remain with his current employers.
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