Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman insists that Lionel Messi his anger over Luis Suarez’s ugly exit won’t affect his performances on the pitch.
The beleaguered Spanish giants start their La Liga season against Villarreal tomorrow after another tumultuous week at Camp Nou in which Messi beat up the club for “kick-out” teammate Suarez.
Messi, whose own efforts to leave Barca this summer were thwarted because it was “impossible” for a club to pay his sacking clause, opened a new dispute with his employers on Friday over the treatment of Suarez, who was due this week Rival Atletico Madrid changed.
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Koeman, who traded potential fame with Holland at Euro 2021 to take on the reins of a club at the lowest stage, said he could understand Messi’s outrage over his close friendship with South American compatriot Suarez, but believes the club’s talisman is fully committed to the cause.
“It is normal for a player to feel sad when a friend leaves the club [after] everything they lived together. But the most important thing for me is the attitude of Messi in training, ”Koeman said at a press conference on Saturday.
“I haven’t seen any intensity-free training [from him].
“He showed it on Friday and in practice this morning and he will prove it in the games. I have no doubt about Messi in this regard. “
Koeman, who has achieved legendary status as a player at Barca, believes his portrayal as the “villain” in the Suarez transfer saga is unfair despite telling the Uruguayan that he does not meet the requirements.
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Koeman said before the opening game, “It seemed like I was the bad guy in this movie, but it isn’t.”
“Since the call [regarding Suarez’s future]I showed him respect and always told him it can be difficult to play, but if he stayed he would be one of the squads.
“Before I signed the contract, the club was thinking about things and I was trying to support those things. They are not just decisions of the coach.
“Luis and I respect each other and we have clearly spoken about his future. He had the opportunity to go to Atletico and I wish all the luck in the world.”
Messi, who should become the highest-paid player in football history with his move to Premier League club Manchester City this summer – allegedly for a deal worth up to € 700 million ($ 814 million) over the course of five Years ago -, Barca settled their treatment of Suarez.
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He wrote on Instagram: “I had already started imagining this, but today I went into the locker room and it really dawned on me. It will be so difficult not to share with you on and next to them every day. “
“We will miss you so much. We have spent many years together, many lunches and many dinners. So many things we will never forget, all the time we’ve spent together.
“It will be strange to see you in a different jersey and so much more to play against you on the field.
“You deserve a farewell that suits you: one of the most important players in the history of the club. Someone who has achieved great things for the team and on an individual level.
“You don’t deserve that they kick you out like they do. But the truth is, nothing surprises me at this point. “
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Messi, who turns 34 this season and is no longer at his peak, is likely to leave Barca for free next summer unless they can convince him to sign a new deal.
However, given the poor relationship between him and the club’s hierarchy, this is highly unlikely.
Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien after being sacked after Bayern Munich’s 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals last month, is hoping for a positive start to his regime in Villarreal.
Their opponents have already started their season with a 1-1 draw with Huesca before beating SD Eibar 2-1.
Barca, Atletico and Sevilla start the season later due to their forays into the Champions League and Europa League.