Following the departure of Luis Suarez from Barcelona, coach of the Barcelona side Ronald Koeman has revealed what he told Lionel Messi on Suarez’s exit from the club.
The 57-year-old Dutch manager spoke to NOS, saying the Uruguayan striker could have stayed at the Camp Nou, but it was the decision of the club to let him go.
The 33-year-old striker went on to join fellow Spanish club Atletico Madrid for £5m, after a potential move to Juventus broke down.
Suarez enjoyed six successful years at the Nou Camp, winning a Champions League and four La Liga titles, titles among other trophies, and scored 21 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions in his final season at the club.
Koeman says he was happy with the former Liverpool star and maintains he did not have to leave if he did not want to.
Speaking to NOS, the former Everton boss said;
“In the case of Suarez, it had become very difficult for him to start playing and I made that known to him. He found it difficult, but I never had any trouble with him at all.”
“He trained normally, trained well. He finally made the choice to leave and I said: ‘If you don’t leave, for whatever reason, then you are just one of the group, then you can prove that I was wrong’. He could have stayed, yes.
“I’m good with Luis, but the club felt that we had to rejuvenate. You can see that now in the team. Ansu Fati plays, he is 17 years old. We have Pedri, 17 years old, who gets his chances. Ronald Araujo is there at the age of 21. Trincao falls in a lot and is 20 years old, and we have taken Sergino Dest, who is 19. Those are all players for the future.”
Messi was especially critical of Barcelona’s handling of Suarez’s departure and Koeman revealed he has discussed the matter with him.
He said: “If you have someone in the locker room with whom you and your wife and children also hang out outside football, then such a reaction makes sense.
“I also said that to Messi: “I understand that you are disappointed and think it is a terrible shame that he is leaving, but these are choices of the club”.
This summer transfer would have witnessed the departure of Lionel Messi leaving the Camp Nou, a place he has home for the past 12 years.
However, reacting to if Messi had left, 57-year-old former Dutch defender said, the Argentine captain has performed well despite his disappointment and he is happy with his conduct.
“After signing here, I immediately contacted Leo. I went to his house and talked to him about his future,” he added.
“He was clear about his dissatisfaction. In the end it worked out well and from the moment he indicated: ‘I’m going for it’, he has done everything I expect of him.”