Ronald Koeman has discussed Luis Suarez’s summer departure from Barcelona to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid and the chances of Lionel Messi staying at the Camp Nou.
The Barcelona boss spoke to former England striker Alan Shearer for The Athletic about his captain and whether he thinks Messi will remain at the club after his contract expires at the end of the season.
I’m not confident about that. I’m hopeful yes about this, because is still a great player. He’s still winning matches for us, for the team. I still don’t see Leo Messi in another shirt than the Barca shirt.
Koeman also spoke about how he met with an “angry” Messi when he first arrived at Barcelona in the summer after replacing Quique Setien as coach.
He was angry about some situations in the club, and he was not happy to be in the team that lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Of course he was angry. He would’ve liked to leave the team. I spoke to him in his house before we started the season. I made plans with him and he was really enthusiastic but I know that he had some problems with the club.
Messi asked to leave the club last summer but was denied an exit. He said in December that he will wait until the end of the season to decide his next move. Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have both been linked with the 33-year-old.
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Suarez Thriving at Atletico
Koeman also discussed Suarez’s departure to Atletico Madrid. The Uruguay international was reportedly told he was surplus to requirements in August 2020 by Koeman in a brief telephone call.
Suarez had one year left on his Barcelona contract but joined Atletico for a fee of €6 million after a transfer to Serie A side Juventus fell through. The Uruguayan has gone on to thrive with Diego Simeone’s side.
Atletico are 10 points clear at the top of La Liga, with a game in hand, and are now hot favorites to claim the Spanish title. Meanwhile, Suarez currently tops the goalscoring charts in Spain with 14 goals.
Koeman Makes Suarez Admission
Koeman admits it would have been better if Suarez had moved to Italy rather than joined Atletico but remains adamant it was the right decision to wave goodbye to the striker.
It’s part of your job. You speak to the club — and when I came as a coach to Barcelona, we had our opinions and I had the information out of the club — and then finally you make decisions.
You need to make these decisions because if it goes well then it’s OK, but if it doesn’t go well, then it needs to be my way and that’s the most important thing.
We are changing and of course, it would have been better that Luis Suarez signed for Juventus instead of Atletico Madrid because he’s still in the Spanish league.
But that kind of decision, we had to make it, really tough ones but showing respect to the player, and I think that’s really important. And I still agree with what we did at that time.
Barcelona failed to bring in a replacement for Suarez but are still the highest-scoring team in La Liga so far in 2020-21 with 41 goals from 19 matches. Messi is Barca’s top scorer with 12, Antoine Griezmann has six, and Ansu Fati is next on four despite being out injured since November.