Currently, the Camp Nou icon presence will hit the free agency in the summer of 2021. He will be able to negotiate pre-contractual terms with any suitors from January, with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, said to be leading that queue.
Messi feels fine at Barcelona
Lionel Messi remains fully engaged to Barcelona despite speculation about his future, says Ronald Koeman, with the LaLiga giants keen to keep their captain happy and firing on all cylinders. Currently, the Camp Nou icon presence will hit the free agency in the summer of 2021. He will be able to negotiate pre-contractual terms with any suitors from January, with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, said to be leading that queue. Barça, however, have not given up on the thrashing out of new terms, and Messi admitted that he feels “fine” at Camp Nou on the back of a testing summer transfer window for all interested. Koeman hasn’t seen anything from the Argentine in what has been a challenging campaign in Catalonia so far, with the six-time Ballon d’Or being handled with care now that he’s 33.
Leo trains hard every day
“If he’s fit enough to play and good enough, then he’ll play, but of course he’s older than before. Although Messi is a player who still wants to be in games and especially to win them,” Koeman told Barcelona’s official website of Messi, who has broken Pele’s record for most goals scored at one club. “He trains hard every day. Leo is very engaged. As a coach, I love talking to my players, and I also talk to him about this and other things because he is also the team captain. There are squad issues, rules, and we talk about a lot, not just how we play. It’s part of the day-to-day job of a coach, and you have to be in touch with your players.”
Ansu Fati and Pedri are fantastic players
While eager to keep Messi as long as possible, Barça have several exciting young people in their books who can step into shoes of an all-time great at some point. Koeman added of this potential: “It’s always nice to talk about teenagers. Ansu Fati and Pedri did at the age of only 17 or 18 in a big team as big as Barcelona is something huge. Pedri came from Las Palmas very young and is already playing games against Real Madrid and Juventus, doing it fantastically. The club needs to have young people and get chances. It would help if you switched the team around little by little. You still need older players, but they will not be around forever, and you need to plan changes in good time, smoothly.”
Barcelona have to be first
“Pedri has earned his place in the lineup because of his work in training. He showed me what a good player he is and can play in a team like Barcelona. Koeman’s debut campaign at Camp Nou didn’t quite go to plan, with Barça currently sat fifth in LaLiga, but he is confident that ultimate goals can be hit. The Dutchman said of his ambition: “In a club like Barcelona, you have to win things and I think that our ultimate goal is to win games and trophies. You will not receive prizes for finishing fourth, and you have to be first. That is the mentality that this team should have; we cannot settle for anything less. We know this is a season with many changes, the club is in a difficult financial situation with questions regarding player wages.”
“It is a very fragile situation for football clubs due to COVID-19. But Barcelona are still a team to win, realizing that changes must be made, but still striving for the highest level and presenting the greatest requirements. That was the mentality here and should always be the mentality.”