Koeman: Messi future does not depend on Pochettino at PSG
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Ronald Koeman claimed it will make no difference to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona future if Mauricio Pochettino takes over at Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi has been linked with a move away from Camp Nou ever since he expressed a desire to leave the club in August 2020, only to decide to stay until at least the end of this season when his contract expires, having been unable to force a transfer.
In a recent interview with Spanish television channel La Sexta the Argentina forward said he “did not know” what he was going to do but suggested he would like to play in the United States at some point.
With former Tottenham boss and compatriot Pochettino heavily tipped to become the new coach at PSG it has been suggested Messi and the Ligue 1 club could be a good fit, particularly with Neymar keen to reunite with his old team-mate.
But Barcelona head coach Koeman does not think there is an automatic correlation between the two.
“I do not know if it is true about Pochettino to PSG,” Koeman told a media conference on Monday. “If Messi decides his future, it will not depend on a coach.
“I did not see the [Messi] interview live, but I have seen it. I have always been calm with Messi and I will not be calmer because he said that he will decide at the end of the season.
“We’ll see what can happen. I appreciate Messi’s words because he is a very important player for the club and for football.
“Anyone likes to speak well of oneself. I’m still the same. I try to move the team forward, it is a year of transition and Messi is key to this process.”
Barca are enduring a difficult season in LaLiga and are in fifth spot, eight points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Messi will miss his side’s LaLiga clash with Eibar on Tuesday while he completes treatment on an ankle injury but Koeman expects him to return from a Christmas break as planned before they face Huesca on January 3.
“Leo had ankle discomfort, that’s why we have given him two more days of vacation,” Koeman explained. “The doctor has said that after a week without training he will be fine.
“Not having a Messi is big loss due to his quality and effectiveness. We lose a great player.”
The Blaugrana are boosted by the return of Ousmane Dembele following the French forward’s troubles with a hamstring injury, as Koeman defended his decision to give players more rest time over the festive period.
Koeman added: “Dembele is fine, he has been training with the team for days. In principle he will be called up [to the squad].
“We have three training sessions before Eibar. Sometimes a break is a training session for a player. In such a tight schedule you have to let the players rest. It is no problem that they have four days off.”