Ronald Koeman is happy for Lionel Messi to decide on his Barcelona future at the end of the season.
Messi asked to leave Barca in 2020 but ultimately stayed put, although he has made little effort to hide his displeasure with former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The 33-year-old’s contract runs out at the end of the season, and he is set to become the most highly sought-after free agent in history.
While Messi, who did not feature in a 1-1 draw with Eibar on Tuesday, is reportedly yet to fully decide on whether he will leave the club, head coach Koeman is not looking to hurry his captain.
“Leo is fine. He was training on [December] 30 and 31, while the rest of the squad was resting,” Koeman said ahead of Barca’s clash with Huesca.
“No doubt for him, he’s got great fitness and he’s prepared, happy and really excited. That’s important for us.
“He has said that he no longer wants to make the decision [now] and it must be respected. You are free to report however you want.
“He always does the best for the team, I see no problem that he doesn’t decide now.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 2, 2021
Barca’s presidential elections are set to take place later this month, with several candidates offering up their plans for how to turn things around for the Catalan giants.
The camp of Emili Rousaud, one candidate, spoke of a potential move for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, although speculation was swiftly stymied by agent Mino Raiola.
Koeman would like to be able to add to his squad in January but accepts that financial restraints may limit his options, while he does not expect any business to happen prior to the presidential elections on January 24.
“Yes. Without saying names, yes,” Koeman replied when asked if he wanted new signings.
“There are players who find it difficult to play games and we want to strengthen the squad. Some don’t have much of a future.
“I have already said that it depends on the new president and there will not be much time. We can be prepared. I cannot change the date of the elections.”
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