MADRID (AFP) – Ronald Koeman has admitted he has no idea if Lionel Messi (AP pic below) will leave Barcelona next summer and said it is not his job to persuade the Argentinian to stay.
Messi made an attempt to leave Barcelona this summer before backing down. He can talk to other clubs in January and leave for free when his contract expires in June, with Manchester City expected to make a renewed attempt to lure the 33-year-old away from Camp Nou.
“Messi still has a contract and in my opinion he has to stay here,” said Koeman in a press conference yesterday, ahead of early tomorrow’s (4am Brunei time) crunch La Liga game away at Atletico Madrid.
“But I am not the person that has to try to make him stay here. We will see about his future, still he is a Barcelona player. Nobody knows what will happen with the future of Messi.”
After returning from a 15-hour trip back to Barcelona on Wednesday morning following international duty, a frustrated Messi faced questions about his relationship with French forward Antoine Griezmann.
A former agent of Griezmann’s had claimed Messi was difficult to play with at Barca, to which Messi said, “I’m tired of always being the problem with everything at the club.” When the comments were put to Koeman, he said, “I can understand why Leo was fuming. People should show a lot more respect to people like Lionel Messi.
“After such a long trip, to ask Messi about Antoine is a lack of respect, once again to create controversy. I have not seen any problem between the two of them, not in the changing room and on the training pitch. There are enough pictures who showing them working well together.”