Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has confessed he is feeling nervous about the future of Lionel Messi, who is no longer tied to the club after his contract expired.
Messi, who became a free agent on July 1, has agreed most of the terms of a new contract but has been made to wait by Barcelona, who need to reduce their wage budget by an enormous £170m to bring themselves back under the salary cap before they can sign Messi.
The scale of the task at hand means it is a genuine possibility that Barcelona will not be able to re-sign Messi, and Koeman admitted he’s not exactly sleeping easy because of the entire situation.
“Whenever an issue is not solved, you have to be worried,” Koeman said (via Marca). “But I have complete confidence in our president to fix this issue, and I hope [it will] because it is very important for the club but also for La Liga that the best player in the world stays and we all have to make an effort for him to stay with us.
“Joan Laporta told me yesterday to be calm, that we are working on this issue and we have the confidence to reach an agreement with Leo [for him to] continue for a few more years.
“He has always shown that he wants to stay at Barcelona and they are working to reach an agreement.
“Leo is playing at the Copa America, he has other things on his mind and hopefully he will win the final against Brazil. He has always given his all for this club and hopefully he will stay. For me, he should stay because to end up wearing another shirt is not good.”
Getting under the salary cap is not going to be an easy task for Barcelona. The likes of Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti are expected to leave on loan, and there has even been suggestions that Antoine Griezmann will have to be sold as he is the club’s highest earner now that Messi is gone.
“I’m going to count on all the players we have and, if there is a change, we have to accept it, but that’s a thing for the club,” Koeman added. “We are trying to improve the team and we will see who stays and who will leave. There are a lot of decisions that we can’t say today.
“Griezmann? He is very important because he has shown his quality, he was a great signing for Barcelona and I am counting on all the players I have at the moment.
“The most important thing, above all, is to do everything possible to keep Leo. That is the most important thing, because he is the future of this club. His performance every year is excellent and we have to do everything we can to make sure he stays.”
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