Barcelona Still Expect Lionel Messi To Leave Next Summer
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman hinted that he's still expecting Lionel Messi to leave the club next summer, despite the forward staying on for this season.
The club managed to keep their all time top goalscorer after he decided in August that he wanted to leave, following the embarrassing 7-2 loss in the Champions League quarter final.
Really Messi only stayed at the Nou Camp because La Liga confirmed he couldn't leave his contract for nothing and that any buying club would need to pay his £630 million buy-out clause.
With his contract up at the end of the season, the 33-year-old can agree his next contract in January before leaving for nothing next summer.
Speaking on Saturday Koeman said he was happy with how the club captain had reacted to staying but confirmed it was for 'this season' only, saying, "I was always hoping Messi would stay for this season. If he had left in the summer, I would have had a very different situation at Barca.
"He wanted to leave but the club was very clear to him. The buy out clause was so high, that not a single club in the world was going to pay that in these times.
"I went to his house and took time to listen to all the things he said. But I also explained to him that I had not been a part of the problems he had with the club and told him how I was going to work to change things.
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"We ended up talking football tactics. It ended as a proper football chat and that convinced me he is a real lover of the game and he still wanted to put everything he has into Barcelona."
There was probably some hope remaining from Barca fans that a change in fortunes on the pitch this season and president Josep Maria Bartomeu after the elections in March might change the player's mind about leaving.
However Koeman's suggestion he won't be considering life with Messi for next season is likely to end those hopes and add more to Manchester City fans.
The Premier League club were favourites to sign Messi in the summer, meaning a reunion with Pep Guardiola, and they'll remain favourites when he does become available.
Very few clubs in the world will be able to afford his wages and City certainly fall into that small category.
Fans in England will be hoping they're back in stadiums in time to see the six time Ballon d'Or winner light up the Premier League.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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