Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman believes the club should “close the book” in the Lionel Messi era after his talisman player left the Blaugrana to join Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain.
The 34-year-old Messi signed a two-year contract with an option for a third with Mauricio Pochettino’s team on Tuesday, and Koeman said it had been a difficult journey for everyone involved as the Argentine star left the club. which he joined, aged 13, in 2003.
“We have to understand that there is always an ending for a player. You have to close the book because now we have to focus on this new season,” Koeman told Martin Ainstein of ESPN. “We have new players and we have to move on, and we have time for that. We have young players in the squad this season, and it is also for the future, we are working on the future of this club, and it is really important to focus on this and not focus on what happened in the last days. “
Messi seemed ready to re-sign with Barça in recent weeks, but due to the serious financial situation of the club and the restrictions imposed on each team by LaLiga by the league, he finally left to join his former teammate Neymar in the PSG.
“I knew there was a difficult situation between the club, Leo Messi and LaLiga to have the chances of keeping the player at the club,” Koeman added. “It takes a long time, but I was also surprised by the day and the moment when I knew that I had finished playing for Barcelona. And I knew that the financial situation of the club made it more difficult.
“I think it was difficult because we are not talking about just any player, we are talking about Leo Messi, the best player in the world for many seasons and we were all disappointed that he will not play for us this season. But, you have to change quickly because you cannot stay In disappointment with the start of the season, you have to understand that for a few days it was a difficult situation.
“Messi meant a lot to this club.”
Koeman was optimistic about the start of the post-Messi era as he seeks to continue developing young players and anticipated the return of injured during last season such as Ansu Fati and Philippe Coutinho, while underlining that Barcelona still have a strong team. .
“Of course we will have a harder time scoring goals,” Koeman said. “Messi scored 30 goals last season. Therefore, other players must contribute more and take the next step, now it is more about the team than the individual players.
“He is not always a player, you have to do it together. Hopefully, we get players like Ansu Fati and Coutinho back and we still have a strong team. We will work harder, we will do more to achieve what people expect of us.
“We are still in the transition. We have to understand that the start of this season is difficult. We still have COVID, we still have injuries so we cannot put all the players on the court, there are still good players missing. We had a good preseason, if we recover all the players from injuries, the squad remains strong. “
Barcelona finished third in LaLiga last season behind Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid, champions, and withdrew from the Champions League in the round of 16 against Messi’s new team, PSG. The Blaugrana club did manage to win the Copa del Rey, and Koeman added that the goal of a club like Barça, to win titles, had not changed.
“The goal is always to win trophies, to be champions, to have a good run in the Champions League,” Koeman said. “Clubs like Barcelona do not have seasons if they win something. We know it, and football people will understand that it will be more difficult. It is about the pace of work and the team and we can take a step forward.”