Ronald Koeman says Barcelona showed Lionel Messi that the club has a bright future despite being knocked out of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
Messi, 33, was right when Barça drew 1-1 in Paris, exiting the competition in the round of 16 for the first time since 2007 after a 5-2 aggregate loss.
– Qualifications: Messi obtains 8/10 despite failing the pen at the exit of Barça UCL
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It could turn out to be Messi’s last European game in Barca’s colors if he decides not to renew his contract when it expires in June, but Koeman believes recent improvements could convince him to stay.
“Leo has seen for some time that the team has been improving with the changes we have made,” said the Barça coach after leaving the Champions League.
“We have quality youngsters and a great future joining the team, so it is not a question of having doubts about what this team is capable of.
“But only he can decide his future. No one can help him. He can see that this side has a great future, so that’s not an argument for him [leave]. “
Messi wanted to leave last August after the 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the UCL. He said there was “no project” in the club and criticized the board and the president in charge at the time.
Both Manchester City and PSG are interested in signing him if he leaves Barça this summer, sources told ESPN previously.
However, with Joan Laporta replacing Josep Maria Bartomeu as club president this week and Barça showing signs of improvement since the turn of the year, there is renewed hope that he can stay.
Koeman’s faith in young players, such as Pedri and Ilaix Moriba, has changed the mood at the club and Barça are unbeaten in 16 league games and have advanced to the final of the Copa del Rey, although they were comfortably eliminated from the Champions League. League for PSG at the end.
Following a 4-1 defeat at the Camp Nou in the first leg, hopes of producing an unlikely comeback were further complicated when Kylian Mbappé gave PSG the lead from the penalty spot on Wednesday.
Messi tied Barça on the night, but missed a penalty at the edge of the break. Ousmane Dembele had missed two good chances and Sergino Dest hit the crossbar as Koeman’s team came out to fight.
“We are eliminated, which is what counts in this sport, but we also have good feelings because we had a chance to complicate it more for PSG,” Koeman added.
“We did not get the reward that our first half deserved. We dominated PSG and created many chances. But we did not take advantage of them. After going to the break at 1-1, it becomes more difficult.
“The result of the first leg was excessive. PSG were very clinical. That was the big difference. We created more than they did here than they did in Barcelona, but they scored more.
“But I can’t blame the team. They made a great effort. We also lacked a bit of luck and their goalkeeper [Keylor Navas] He was the man of the match. “
Forward Antoine Griezmann asked Barça to use the performance as a springboard to win the Copa del Rey and La Liga, where they currently rank second in the table, six points behind leader Atlético de Madrid.
“We are angry because we wanted to pass, but the performance gives us confidence,” Griezmann said. “We played very well and had four very clear chances, plus the penalty, but we couldn’t take advantage of them.
“We wanted to do a great performance, give everything, but it wasn’t like that. We still have La Liga and the Cup, that’s the goal now.”