Lionel Messi shocked the world when he handed in a transfer request to Barcelona and Ronald Koeman has now revealed he rushed to the Messi mansion to discuss his future after taking charge of the club. Speaking to Dutch media outlet NOS, Ronald Koeman revealed that immediately after signing on as the manager of the Blaugrana, he contacted Lionel Messi and went to his house to address his future.
Lionel Messi was heavily linked with a move away to Man City but Barcelona and LaLiga insisted that his release clause was still active, which meant Man City would have to pay the humongous €700 million release clause to prise him out of Barcelona. Lionel Messi eventually decided against taking any legal action against Barcelona and ended up staying put for another season.
Ronald Koeman has seemingly been happy with Messi's performance and said while speaking to media outlet NOS: "In the end it was well and from the moment he indicated he would continue, he has done everything I expect of him." The manager also clarified that the decision to terminate Luis Suarez's contract who also was Messi's best friend wasn't his call. Ronald Koeman further emphasised that he has a good relationship with Suarez, but the club decided on giving opportunities to young talent in the ranks. Ansu Fati and Pedri, both of whom at 17, are examples of the same.
Seleção espanhola se preparando para enfrentar a Ucrânia pela Nations, times arquitetando um projeto para mudar o futebol na Inglaterra, Ronald Koeman falando sobre Messi, e reforço chegando ao Bayern. Vem ficar por dentro de tudo isso agora no Conexão Europa! #ConexãoEuropa pic.twitter.com/eno3h9K2LZ— Esporte Interativo (de 🏠) (@Esp_Interativo) October 12, 2020
The 33-year-old was no longer required by the club and went on to join Atletico Madrid on a two-year deal after a potential move to Juventus broke down.
Speaking to ESPN, Luis Suarez said that Barcelona forced him out of the club because of this closeness with Lionel Messi. "I think they wanted to remove me from Messi's side, maybe it annoyed them that I had a good relationship with Leo, perhaps they didn't want him to be with me so much. I can't find any reason to think that would damage the team, though."