Barcelona boss Koeman reveals talk with Lionel Messi: “The final decision is mine”

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has revealed he has held talks with star Lionel Messi about why he is resting him for Champions League matches.

The Blaugrana have already assured themselves of qualification for the Round of 16 in the competition with four wins from four in their group stage to date.

Messi news has focused on him being excluded from the recent trip to Ukraine when the Catalan giants ran out four-goal victors, and Koeman has now confirmed that he will also sit out this week’s trip to Hungarian side Ferencvaros.

Koeman told reporters ahead of the match, as cited by Marca: “It is not usual for him to rest, I know, but in this calendar of this season there were two moments that we could give him a rest: in Kiev and tomorrow.

“We have already qualified. And also this way I can give opportunities to others. The league match on the Saturday is a game we have to win.

“It is time for him to rest. From tomorrow there will be no more possibility of doing it. We would like to have him for playing always, but I have spoken with him and asked him, and the final decision is up to the coach. The final decision is mine.”

Messi’s absence means first-team opportunities are more likely to be given to a host of other attacking players in the squad, such as Martin Braithwaite – who has scored three goals in his two starts.

Braithwaite is now averaging a goal every 75 minutes on the pitch in Barcelona fixtures – three strikes in 227 official minutes – and is providing a focal point in Koeman’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

Tags Lionel Messi Ronald Koeman