Following Barcelona’s Champions League exit, club icon Lionel Messi has been subject to heavy transfer speculations linking him with a move away from the Nou Camp.
According to Catalan radio RAC1, Messi has reportedly told Ronald Koeman he has serious doubts about staying at Barcelona.
Barcelona fell to a humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday.
The Spanish giants quickly relieved Quique Setien of his head coach duties while sporting director Eric Abidal stepped down from his role following day.
On Wednesday, Barcelona announced ex-player and Champions League winner, Ronald Koeman, as the club’s new head coach.
The 57-year-old quit his job with the Netherlands national team and has penned a two-year contract at the Camp Nou.
Koeman addressed the Messi saga, stating that he wants the star player to remain at the club and his desire to work with him. He said: “I don’t know if I have to convince Messi [to stay]. Of course, he is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world in your team – you don’t want him playing against you.
“For me as a coach, I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he is at the ability and the level he has always shown, I would be more than happy for him to stay.
“He’s still got a contract and he is still a Barcelona player. There are some older players in the team and we need to make some decisions, but in Messi’s case I hope that he stays with us.”
However, Messi reportedly returned to Barcelona from his summer holiday to speak with the newly appointed coach about a potential exit.
Reports suggest the 33-year-old told Koeman he is considering his future at the Camp Nou, having lost faith in the club’s president Josep Bartomeu.
RAC1 said Messi told Koeman he saw himself ‘more out than in’ at the club.
Club president Josep Bartomeu had earlier squashed all rumors of Messi’s exit, saying the Argentine star has a vital role to play in the newly appointed Koeman’s team and would to end his career at the club.
Speaking to Barca TV, he said: “Messi is untouchable and non-transferable,”
“He knows it, we all know it. But there are various non-transferable players like [Marc-Andre] Ter Stegen, [Clement] Lenglet, [Nelson] Semedo, [Frenkie] De Jong, [Antoine] Griezmann, [Ousmane] Dembele, players we are counting on in the future.”
“He [Messi] has a contract until 2021, I speak a lot with Leo and more regularly with his father. He is number one in the world. There is no doubt that in Koeman’s new project you can count on Messi.
“Messi wants to finish his career with Barcelona and Koeman sees him as a fundamental part of his project.”
Lionel Messi was sensational for Barcelona last season.
He finished as the highest goal scorer in the Spanish La Liga with 25 goals in 33 league games.
Messi claimed the famous Pichichi trophy, winning it for the fourth time in a row. He holds the record for most Pichichi awards after claiming the title for the seventh time.
The Pichichi award is a trophy given to the league’s highest goal scorer.
He also finished the 2019/20 La Liga campaign at the top of the league’s assist standing. He registered 21 assists as he finished the league’s top scorer and top assists provider for the third season running.
The 21 assists recorded by Messi is a La Liga record for most assists in a single season after the Barcelona No.10 surpassed former record holder and teammate Xavi.