File photo of Lionel Messi. Photo: Barcelona twitter handle
Forced to handle yet another difficult situation regarding Lionel Messi, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman demanded more "respect" for his disgruntled star.
Koeman said he understood why Messi was visibly angry when journalists asked him about the criticism directed at him by a former agent of teammate Antoine Griezmann when Messi arrived in Spain on Wednesday after a long flight.
"I need to defend Leo because if something happened to me after a trip of 15 hours in a plane back to Barcelona you go outside and there is a lot of press asking that type of question I would be dangerous and hate them as well," Koeman said on Friday.
"We have to respect people like Messi more. And from what I have seen on the field and in training, there is no problem between (Messi and Griezmann)."
Eric Olhats, Griezmann's agent until 2016, told France Football magazine last week that Messi has marginalized Griezmann in his "regime of terror" at the club where the Argentine supposedly "controls everything."
When journalists asked Messi for his response, he wearily answered: "To be honest, I'm a bit tired of always being the problem for everything in this club."
That set off another round of alarm bells at the Camp Nou about Messi's future.
Many are concerned that the latest unpleasant episode is yet another reason for Messi to go through with his plan to leave the club. With his contract expiring at the end of this season, Messi will be free to negotiate with other clubs in January.
There is widespread speculation he could be tempted to reunite with former coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Koeman said that while he does not feel it is his job to convince Messi to stay, he is confident the 33-year-old forward will prolong his 20-year stint at Barcelona.
"I hope he will stay in Barcelona," Koeman said. "I think it is unbelievable what he has done for this club, but he is the main person to make a decision about his future."
Barcelona will visit Atltico Madrid, the league's only unbeaten team, on Saturday.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.