Barca coach Koeman defends Messi outburst

·2-min read

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has demanded more "respect" for his disgruntled star, Lionel Messi.

The Dutchman's support for Messi came as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola reiterated that he still wants the great Argentine player to finish his career with the Catalan giants.

Koeman said he understood why Messi seemed angry after arriving in Spain following a long flight from Argentina in midweek only to be confronted by journalists who questioned him about criticism from a former agent of teammate Antoine Griezmann.

"I need to defend Leo because if something happened to me after a trip of 15 hours in a plane back to Barcelona - you go outside and there is a lot of press asking that type of question - I would be dangerous and hate them as well," Koeman said on Friday.

"We have to respect people like Messi more. And from what I have seen on the field and in training, there is no problem between (Messi and Griezmann)."

Eric Olhats, Griezmann's agent until 2016, told France Football magazine that Messi has marginalised Griezmann in his "regime of terror" at the club where the Argentine supposedly "controls everything."

When journalists asked Messi for his response, he answered wearily: "To be honest, I'm a bit tired of always being the problem for everything in this club."

That set off another round of alarm bells at the Nou Camp about Messi's future.

Many are concerned that the latest unpleasant episode is yet another reason for Messi to go through with his plan to leave the club.

With his contract expiring at the end of this season, Messi will be free to negotiate with other clubs in January.

Koeman said that while he does not feel it is his job to convince Messi to stay, he is confident the 33-year-old forward will prolong his 20-year stint at Barcelona.

"I hope he will stay in Barcelona," Koeman said ahead of Barca's visit to Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

"I think it is unbelievable what he has done for this club, but he is the main person to make a decision about his future."

In Manchester, Guardiola said he is not thinking about bringing Messi to City, despite all the rumours suggesting the pair could be reunited after their incredibly successful partnership at the Nou Camp.

Guardiola's decision to sign a new contract at City this week has led to fresh speculation that the club could attempt to lure the six-time world player of the year to the Etihad.

But the Spaniard said: "I want him to finish his career there. That is what I want. I said it a thousand times. As a Barcelona fan I want Leo to finish there.

"But his contract finishes this year and I don't know what will happen in his mind."