FC Barcelona's Leo Messi during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villarreal CF and FC Barcelona at La Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, eastern Spain, 05 July 2020. EPA/DOMENECH CASTELLO
FC Barcelona's Leo Messi during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villarreal CF and FC Barcelona at La Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, eastern Spain, 05 July 2020. EPA/DOMENECH CASTELLO

New FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said on Wednesday that one of his main priorities is to keep Leo Messi at the club.

Barca’s 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League last Friday sparked rumors that after the frustration of another European failure Messi could decide to leave the Camp Nou after spending all his career at the club.

Speaking at his official presentation to the press on Wednesday afternoon after being confirmed by the club as their new coach until June 2020, Koeman said he hoped Messi wanted to stay.

“I only want players who want to be here,” was the Dutchman’s first message, before discussing the Argentinean.

“I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (if he wants to stay),” he commented, before adding “Messi is the best player in the world and you want him on your team, not on your opponent’s. For me, as a coach, I’d love to work with Messi. Because he wins you games. And if you can get out of him what he’s proved he can do, I’d be delighted if he stayed.”

“I need to speak to him, of course, he’s the captain. Decisions need to be made but hopefully Messi stays here for years,” said Koeman, who would not reveal what he intended to say to the striker.

“These are private things between a coach and a player. I want to know what Messi thinks. And then it’s up to me to take decision. But he’s such an important player that any team would want him,” he commented.

Koeman also discussed Barca’s Champions League exit to Bayern after their worst ever European result.

“Like all Barca fans, I was sad at such a heavy defeat. You can’t give that image even against a powerful team like Bayern. It’s not what we want,” concluded the coach.

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