Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has claimed that Lionel Messi’s performances ‘could be better’ – but has insisted that the Argentine is happy and will rediscover his best form.
The 33-year-old informed the club of his desire to leave during the summer after a hugely disappointing 2019/20 season, which ended with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. But while he made his feelings clear, Messi later confirmed that he would be staying at Camp Nou for at least one more season.
However, Messi has netted just once – a penalty on the opening weekend – so far this campaign, although he has provided two assists as well. Speaking ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League clash with Ferencvaros on Tuesday, Koeman has admitted that Messi isn’t quite playing at his sparkling best right now, but insisted that he is happy at the club.
“Maybe, at the moment, Messi’s performances could be better,” said Koeman ahead of Tuesday’s game, as quoted by ESPN.
“But he is happy, he is working hard and he wants to be the captain. I don’t have a single complaint. He has also had some bad luck. He hit the post [during Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Getafe] and on another day that goes in.
“I don’t have any doubts about his performances and we’re going to see him [at his best] in the upcoming games, I’m sure.”
Koeman further admitted that considering Barça’s shock exits in recent years in the Champions League, his side can not be considered favourites. He continued: “I can’t explain what happened in recent seasons because I wasn’t here – there were different players and coaches – but if we fail this season, I will be able to tell you why.
“But seeing what’s happened in recent seasons, I can [say] we are not the favourites. We are one of the teams that can go far in the competition, but not the favourites.”
While Barcelona may not be the overwhelming favourites to win the competition, Koeman’s claims that he will be able to explain why the team have failed if they do suffer a shock defeat to exit the competition probably won’t sit very well with supporters.
Koeman’s Barça side have made a slow start to the season and currently find themselves sat in ninth place in La Liga, with seven points from four games. Messi may not be playing at his astonishing best at this current moment in time, but Koeman’s comments on both his form as well as the club’s ambitions will likely do little to please the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.