Newly-unveiled Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman says he plans to sit down and talk with Lionel Messi as he looks to work alongside the Argentinian star for years to come.
Koeman was speaking at his introductory news conference with the club, having recently been unveiled as Quique Setien’s successor.
Setien was dismissed on the heels of a trophy-less end to the season, with Barca falling short to rivals Real Madrid in La Liga before being trounced by Bayern Munich in an 8-2 beatdown to conclude their Champions League run.
Koeman joins Barca as he leaves his role with the Netherlands national team, and he’ll find that his old club is currently in a state of disarray.
Technical director Eric Abidal has followed Setien out the door, while Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu faces an election in March.
The president has already stated that several Barca stars are available for transfer, with the club only committing to keeping hold of individuals they see as key players.
One player that the club is eager to hold on to is Messi, although recent reports have stated that the captain is fed up with Barca’s decision-making and is considering a departure from Camp Nou.
Koeman, meanwhile, is hopeful that Messi stays on with the club for as long as possible as he looks forward to working alongside the club’s long-time star.
‘I don’t know if I have to convince Messi or not,’ Koeman said on Wednesday. ‘You want to have the best in the world in your team, not the opposite.
‘I want to work with Messi. He wins you games and, if he provides the performances he has always shown, I’ll be happy if he wants to stay.
‘He has a contract. I have to talk to him, because he is the captain of the team. We are going to work and talk with several players. And in the case of Messi, I hope that he will be here for many more years.’
He added: ‘What I talk to Messi, there are private things between player and coach. We will talk about what he thinks of Barcelona and then I will make decisions.
‘Messi has one more year on his contract and is a Barca player and I want him in my team.’
The Argentinian was Barca’s standout yet again throughout the 2019-20 campaign, breaking former teammate Xavi’s assist record with 21 assists while also firing 25 goals of his own.
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