Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman is adamant that the long-term future of talismanic skipper Lionel Messi lies at the club despite speculations linking him with a move to the Premier League. Messi was the maintopic during his pre-match presser ahead of the tough trip to Atletico Madrid this weekend, but the new Barcelona boss was having none of it. Koeman and his players face a very difficult fixture on paper against Atletico Madrid at the new WandaMetropolitano Stadium. Atletico Madrid are the only unbeaten team amongst the 20 La Liga teams.
The speculation over the future of Messi at Barcelona has heightened in the last 24 hours after former manager Pep Guardiola signed a contract extension at the Etihad Stadium. The Manchester City boss has signed a new two-year extension to his previous deal which was expected to end next summer.
His new Manchester City contract will now run until the end of the 2022/23 season. Manchester City have been strongly linked with a free transfer move for Messi and they are not the only ones interested in him. Italian Serie A side Inter Milan also want to sign him, but they are behind the Citizens in the race to sign the Barcelona player who tried to leave the Nou Camp giants in this summer.
Messi was fed up with the direction of the club under the Jose Maria Bartomeu-led board and wanted to leave only for his move to be blocked by then club president Bartomeu and his board members. They had asked that his €700m release clause be paid before the Argentine would be allowed to leave the club.
Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola created magic together as player and manager at Barcelona between 2009 and 2012. To this effect, Manchester City fans would be hoping that they can reprise that role at the Etihad Stadium if the club can lure the six-time Ballon d’Or winner away from Barcelona.