June 21, 2021

Koeman hopes Messi will be convinced to stay at Barcelona by ‘improving’ young team

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The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will see his contract at Camp Nou expire at the end of the season

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman is hoping that Barcelona’s “improving” young side will convince Lionel Messi to stay past this season. 

The Blaugrana were bounced from the Champions League at the last-16 stage, drawing 1-1 against PSG on Wednesday to seal a 5-2 aggregate defeat. 

Messi, whose contract with Barca expires at the end of the season, may have made his last European appearance for the only professional club he’s ever known. 

What was said?

Speaking at a press conference after the game, Koeman said: “Leo’s seen for a while that the team is improving with the changes we’ve made.

“[There are] many youngsters with quality and a big future coming in, so it’s not a question of having doubts about this team.”

Barca’s next generation

Though Messi remains the team’s focal point, Barcelona have seen an exciting crop of youngsters emerge over the past year to give the club hope for the future. 

Ronald Araujo, Sergino Dest, Riqui Puig, Pedri, Francisco Trincao, Oscar Mingueza, Ilaix Moriba and Ansu Fati have all made their mark, with each of those players 22 or younger.

Can Barca convince Messi to stay?

Messi has made no secret of his displeasure with Barcelona over the past year, memorably demanding to leave the club last summer before retracting his request. 

Joan Laporta, Barca’s president from 2003 to 2010, was re-elected president on Sunday after Josep Bartomeu had previously been forced out.

Messi’s relationship with Bartomeu had fallen apart, and Laporta has made it clear that his first priority as president is to keep the club’s six-time Ballon d’Or winner around. 

Barca have shown improvement on the pitch of late and Messi was seen voting in the club’s presidential elections, which was viewed as a sign of his renewed engagement at Camp Nou.

With new leadership and a talented younger generation emerging, there has been renewed optimism that Messi could sign a new deal with the club.

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