Ronald Koeman believes Barcelona have shown Lionel Messi that the club have a bright future, despite Wednesday’s Champions League elimination of Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi, 33, scored in the 1-1 draw in Paris and was eliminated from the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2007 after a 5-2 defeat.
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This could be Messi’s last European game for Barca if he decides not to renew his contract when it expires in June, but Koeman believes recent improvements could convince him to stay.
Leo has seen the team improve with the changes we have been making for a while, the Barca coach said after the Champions League elimination.
We have some quality guys coming into the team, so it’s not a matter of questioning what the team is capable of.
But only he can decide his future. No one can help him. He sees that this team has a great future, so it’s not an argument for him to [leave].
Messi wanted out last August after an 8-2 loss at UCLA in Munich. He said there was no plan for the club and criticised the board and chairman at the time.
Manchester City and PSG are both interested in signing him if he leaves Barca this summer, sources have revealed to ESPN.
But with Joan Laporta replacing him as president of the club this week and Barca showing signs of improvement since the start of the year, there is renewed hope that he could stay.
Koeman’s confidence in young players like Pedri and Elaix Moriba has changed the atmosphere at the club and Barca are unbeaten in 16 league games and reached the final of the Copa del Rey, although PSG eventually comfortably eliminated them in the Champions League.
After a 4-1 defeat at Camp Nou, hopes of an improbable comeback were dashed when Kylian Mbappé gave PSG the lead from the penalty spot on Wednesday.
Messi managed to level the score for Barça, but missed a penalty just before half-time. Ousmane Dembele had missed two good chances earlier and Sergino Dest hit the bar as Koeman’s team took the lead.
We are eliminated, which is important in this sport, but we also feel good because we had chances to make it difficult for PSG, Koeman added.
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We didn’t get the reward our first half deserved. We dominated PSG and created many chances. But we didn’t take it. After a 1-1 lead at halftime, things got tougher.
The result of the first phase was too high. The PSGs were very clinical. That was the big difference. We created more here than in Barcelona, but they scored more goals.
But I can’t blame the team. You’ve been working very hard. We were also unlucky and their goalkeeper [Keylor Navas] was the man of the match.
Striker Antoine Griezmann has urged Barca to use the performance as a springboard to win the Copa del Rey and La Liga, where they are currently second in the league table, six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
We are angry because we wanted to do it, but the performance gives us confidence, Griezmann said. We played very well and had four clear-cut chances, plus penalty kicks, but we couldn’t capitalise on them.
We wanted to give a great performance, give everything, but it didn’t work out. We still have La Liga and the Copa, that’s the goal.
frequently asked questions
Is it true that Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona?
Lionel Messi is still ready to leave Barcelona and hasn’t changed his mind, at least that’s what I’ve been told. … Messi is convinced his time at Barcelona is over. Or rather, it will happen in June, when his contract expires.
What happens when Messi leaves Barcelona?
If Messi were to leave, Barcelona would really be in trouble. They’ve relied on him more than ever in recent seasons. … The UEFA Champions League victory over Napoli, in which Messi scored a solo goal and converted a penalty out of nothing, and the 3-1 win is another example.
Why didn’t Messi leave Barcelona?
Despite a strong desire to leave, Barcelona insisted Messi would not be allowed to leave without fulfilling his $833 million transfer clause. The Argentine chose to stay to avoid a legal battle with the club of his life.
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