Koeman – Barcelona may have been knocked out of the Champions League after drawing 1-1 away at Paris Saint-Germain, following a 4-1 home defeat three weeks earlier, but Ronald Koeman believes the second leg of their last-16 tie is the perfect advertisement for Lionel Messi to stay.
Messi’s contract at Barcelona comes to an end on June 30 and, in the wake of the news that Joan Laporta is the club’s new president, thoughts will now begin to turn towards the Argentine’s future.
“In general, Leo has seen that the team is getting better and better,” Koeman said in his post-match press conference.
“With the changes we’ve made, bringing in young players… Messi can have no doubts about the future of this team.”
Messi missed a penalty just before the half-time break which would have given Barcelona a 2-1 lead on the night, and Koeman thinks things could have been different if they were winning after the first 45 minutes.
“We are eliminated, but we leave feeling good [about ourselves],” the Dutchman noted.
“We had chances to make things difficult for the opposition. We played a great first half, we were superior, with a great attitude.
“We deserved more. At least a 1-2 at half time. That would have made all the difference.”
There will be no Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2004/05, as Juventus were also eliminated one night before.
“I don’t know if Leo will be annoyed,” Koeman stated.
“It’s a shame because they are two great players, but you have to accept it. As for Leo’s future, it’s up to him to decide. Nobody can help him.
“He has seen for a long time that there is a lot of promise in this team. That’s not going to be an argument for him not to stay.”
Barcelona missed a series of chances, particularly in the first half, so does Koeman think they could have done with having an out-and-out No.9?
“It’s true. It’s also not normal to create so many chances against a strong team, like today,” he explained.
“We took risks, we had to defend one on one. I think the play without the ball today was phenomenal.
“We need to be more clinical. That’s the difference between us. With a lot less chances [at the Camp Nou], they scored more goals.”