Lionel Messi met new Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman on Thursday to discuss his future at the club and to talk about whether he’ll stay at the Camp Nou.
The Argentina international interrupted his vacation to speak with the Dutchman at the express wish of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
According to RAC1, Messi told Koeman “he does not see his future at Barça clearly” and that currently he is leaning more towards leaving than staying. However, Messi is also aware it will be difficult to depart as he has a contract until the end of next season and a buyout clause set at €700 million.
Koeman was unveiled as Barcelona manager on Wednesday and spoke about wanting to coach Messi next season at the Camp Nou.
“For me as a coach I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. For now he still has a contract, he’s still a Barcelona player. I need to speak to him, he’s the captain. We need to work with him and speak to various players. In Messi’s case I hope he stays with us.”
Messi has become fed up with Barcelona after a chaotic season on and off the pitch that saw the team end the season empty-handed for the first team in a decade. Barcelona also suffered a humiliating exit from the Champions League for the third season in a row.
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Where Could Messi Go?
Messi’s buyout clause and enormous wages means there are few clubs that could afford to bring in the 33-year-old. Serie A side Inter have been linked with the Argentine, although CEO Beppe Marotta has insisted it’s unlikely.
He told Sky Sport Italia it would be “extraordinary to see such a champion at Inter” and added talk of a move for Messi was “fantasy football, a utopian situation.”
Manchester City are another club to have been mentioned as a possible destination for Messi. A move to the Premier League side would see the forward reunited with former boss Pep Guardiola.
However, Argentina international team-mate Gonzalo Higuain has warned Messi he might not enjoy life in the English top-flight in an interview with Fox Sports.
“I suffered a lot in the Premier League and couldn’t adapt in those six months. It’s nothing like LaLiga. There, the defenders rough you up with kicks and they don’t blow for freekicks like they would in Spain.
“I don’t know how that would affect Messi. I don’t think he would suffer, since he is a player at another level.
“I don’t know what Messi is thinking right now, but I hope he decides what he feels will make him happy. That’s the most important part of a decision. Do what makes you happy, not what will make others happy.”
Journalist Graham Hunter has told Sky Sports that although Messi turned 33 in June he still has the potential to be “exceptional for another three or four years.” Hunter says the only reason Messi wants to leave is to win the Champions League again.
“He doesn’t want to leave for more money or just to be out of the mess that is going on around him, he wants to win the Champions League. It’s a very complicated equation to work out how he leaves, or to where he might go.
“Of course, he is waiting to see the developments [regarding the board and manager] and whether he believes that might make a difference to him staying and winning at Barcelona.”
Clubs will also be aware that signing Messi now will be very expensive, but the Barcelona captain will be a free agent next summer and able to negotiate a pre-contract from January.