Monday, June 27, 2022

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Koeman hopeful on Messi after Champions League crash

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman says he believes talisman Lionel Messi will want to stay on at the club they bowed out of the Champions League with a spirited performance at Paris St-Germain.

Messi stunned the world with his decision to quit last summer and was heavily linked with a move to PSG prior to this last-16 tie.

However, while the result saw Barca fail to reach the last eight of the competition for the first time in 14 years, Koeman says the manner of their exit could help to persuade the Argentine to continue his long association with the club.

“Leo (Messi) has seen for quite some time that the team is improving thanks to all the changes we’ve made,” said Koeman.

“Particularly, we have young players of great quality. We’ve got a great future ahead. Leo can’t have any doubts about what the future holds for this team.

“We are departing this Champions League in a very different manner from the way we did last season. In this game, we hit our level and that’s the road we have to follow.”

Messi’s stunning 25-yard equaliser had given the Catalans hope of staging a remarkable comeback, with Kylian Mbappe earlier putting the hosts in front against the run of play with a disputable penalty.

Barca were looking to become the first side to overturn a three-goal deficit from the first leg at home, but some wasteful finishing, including a Messi penalty that was deflected on to the bar by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas on the stroke of half time, sealed their fate in Paris.

For now though, the future of Messi, and the club remains in the balance.

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