Ronald Koeman on Lionel Messi’s future: “He can’t have doubts about the future of this team”

Barcelona travelled to Paris dreaming of another remontada. One of their greatest European nights occurred against Paris Saint-Germain back in 2017, when they came back from losing the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash to go through on aggregate. They couldn’t repeat the trick on Wednesday evening, however, drawing 1-1 to go out of Europe 5-2 on aggregate.

Barcelona had lost the first leg 4-1 at Camp Nou last month, with Kylian Mbappe scoring a hat-trick. Ronald Koeman‘s men have been on a good run of form since, however, and it was amidst this attitude they pulled up at Parc des Princes. Barcelona started well, too, peppering Keylor Navas in the PSG goal in pursuit of that crucial opener. Ousmane Dembele, playing in his home country, was a constant threat, but it was Sergino Dest who came closest early doors. The right-back had an effort on goal tipped onto the crossbar by Navas in the 23rd minute.

Mbappe was the one who opened the scoring, however, converting a penalty kick on the stroke of the half hour mark to put PSG into a pivotal early lead. Barcelona struck back through a Lionel Messi golazo. The Argentine picked up the ball some distance out before unleashing a powerful effort past Navas and into the top-left corner of the net. Messi had the chance to make it 2-1 just before half-time, but his penalty was tipped on to the bar by Navas and kept out. It was a moment that would prove decisive in the tie and Barcelona’s European campaign.

“We have good feelings,” Koeman said post-game as per Mundo Deportivo. “We’re eliminated and we’re sad about that, but we made it difficult for them. We played a great game in the first half. We deserved for it to be 2-1 at half-time, and at 2-1 anything’s possible. We risked, pressured, dominated and created enough opportunities, but we didn’t take advantage of them.

“We’re going in a different way. Yes, it’s sad that him and Cristiano [Ronaldo] didn’t make it [into the quarter-finals]. But Messi must decide his own future, nobody can help him with this. He’s seen for a long time now that the team is going in the right direction. And with the changes we’ve made and the youngsters who are only going to improve, he can’t have doubts about the future of this team. Everyone can be proud, including our president. We’ve shown our face and from the first to the last second we saw a team that wanted to win this tie.”

Tags Barcelona Champions League La Liga Ronald Koeman
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