New Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman plans to hold crunch Lionel Messi talks
Barcelona have officially confirmed Ronald Koeman as their new head coach following the sacking of Quique Setien.
Koeman takes charge just days after Setien was dismissed and has been given the reins at a job he has long coveted as a manager.
The Dutchman’s first priority is to secure the future of Lionel Messi, who has threatened to leave the club unless sweeping changes are made.
The 8-2 humiliating to Bayern Munich in the Champions League has sparked chaos at the club with the sacking of Setien and sporting director Eric Abidal.
The presidential elections have also been moved forward to March but Spanish outlet Sport claim Koeman will immediately seek to speak with Messi to discuss his future.
Koeman is adamant Messi must stay at the club as he prepares to bring down the axe on Barcelona’s squad and wants to gather the 33-year-old’s thoughts on what needs to be done.
Almost the entirety of the squads has been put up for sale and Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu confirmed there needs to be a host of departures to facilitate new signings.
Komean has already drawn up a list of the areas he needs to strengthen and aims to sign a defender, a starting left-back, a midfielder and a centre forward.
The former Barcelona star will make a decision on each player, but considers Messi untouchable.
Koeman is also eager to add more young players to his squad, but understands the crucial job is to convince Messi to stay at Barcelona.
The club hierarchy have been forced to deny Messi has expressed a desire to leave and Bartomeu has insisted the Argentina international is going nowhere.
‘Messi wants to finish his career at Barca, he has said it many times,’ Bartomeu said.
‘I have spoken with Koeman and he has told me that Messi is the pillar of his project.
‘Messi has a contract at Barca until 2021, he knows it and we all know it. I speak regularly with Messi and especially with his father.
‘There is a project, that a new coach will arrive and he is counting on him. Messi is still the best player in the world…and each project that is done is done thinking that we have the best player in the world and in making his qualities grow.
‘In the new project Koeman has Messi of all of them.’
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