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Ronald Koeman hints Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona next summer

Koeman hints Messi will leave Barcelona next summer
© Reuters
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman suggests that Lionel Messi will leave the Catalan giants on a free transfer next summer.

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has suggested that he is not counting on Lionel Messi beyond the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

The Argentina international expressed a desire to leave Camp Nou during the recent transfer window, but Barca were not prepared to allow him to depart on a free and instead insisted that any interested club had to pay the £630m release clause in his contract.

Messi ultimately decided to remain with the Catalan giants, but the attacker's current deal will officially expire next summer, and Manchester City and Juventus have been strongly linked with his services.

Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien as Barca boss over the summer, has hinted that he is resigned to losing the 33-year-old at the end of the current season.

"I was always hoping Messi would stay for this season. If he had left in the summer, I would have had a very different situation at Barca," The Mirror quotes Koeman as saying.

"He wanted to leave but the club was very clear to him. The buy out clause was so high, that not a single club in the world was going to pay that in these times.

"I went to his house and took time to listen to all the things he said. But I also explained to him that I had not been a part of the problems he had with the club and told him how I was going to work to change things.

"We ended up talking football tactics. It ended as a proper football chat and that convinced me he is a real lover of the game and he still wanted to put everything he has into Barcelona."

Messi played the full 90 minutes as Barca suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Getafe in La Liga on Saturday night.

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