‘Barcelona are always better with Messi’: Ronald Koeman insists club’s superstar has ‘shown he wants to win’ despite problems with the board… as boss reveals he went to Argentine’s house for crunch talks when he arrived
- When Ronald Koeman arrived at Barcelona, Lionel Messi wanted to leave club
- Koeman has heaped praise on Messi for putting his issues with the board aside
- Dutchman reveals he went to Messi’s house for crunch talks when he arrived
- He also spoke about Antoine Griezmann and says it is up to him to turn the tide
When Koeman arrived in the summer, Messi’s future was top of the agenda, with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner having publicly admitted his desire to leave.
He had fallen out with the board, and in particular the now-former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, but has since put that behind him to concentrate on his football and guiding Barcelona through the season.
Ronald Koeman (right) has heaped praise on Lionel Messi for knuckling down on the pitch
Messi wanted to leave in the summer but is now steering Barcelona through the season
‘When I arrived, they told me Messi was unhappy,’ Koeman said in an interview with SPORT this week. ‘We spoke at his house. He explained his reasons and I was honest.
‘I told him that the only things I could change were football things: the system of play, his position on the pitch, his importance in the team. But the issues he had with the club, I could not change them.
‘Messi demonstrated to me that he’s a person that wants to win things, be the best and continue being the best, even though he’s had his problems with the club.’
One other dilemma in Koeman’s in-tray when he arrived was the impact of Antoine Griezmann, and the Frenchman is still yet to prove his worth at Barca.
His arrival from Atletico Madrid was highly-anticipated, and came a year after he had initially turned the club down in favour of staying in the Spanish capital.
Although Koeman says he is working hard in training, he admits it’s in Griezmann’s hands to turn the tide.
‘He’s working well, although he said himself a few weeks ago his performances have to improve,’ the Barcelona boss noted.
‘The players pass through moments of doubts and we have to help them find their best form, but at the end of the day it’s in the hands of the player.’