A pleasant chat with Kylian Mbappe. A fast hug with Mauricio Pochettino. A kiss on the brow from Ángel Di María.
The indicators had been all there at Parc des Princes for paranoid Barcelona followers who concern Lionel Messi will observe the trail of Neymar and bolt for Paris Saint-Germain as soon as the season ends.
Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, nevertheless, is assured that he has performed all he can to persuade Messi to proceed his profession with the Spanish membership, regardless of one other disappointing Champions League marketing campaign.
“Leo has to determine his future, no person may also help him do this, (however) I believe that he has seen for a while now that this staff is heading in the right direction and has a future. I don’t assume that he can use that as a motive to not keep,” Koeman mentioned after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at PSG eradicated Barcelona from the competitors.
Koeman, who as a substitute of titles promised a rejuvenation of the staff when he took over final 12 months, has Barcelona taking part in nicely once more. The staff fought again to beat Sevilla within the Copa del Rey semifinals final week and has closed the hole on Spanish league chief Atlético Madrid to 6 factors.
Barcelona is unbeaten in 16 league video games — with 13 wins and three attracts — earlier than it hosts last-place Huesca on Monday. Atlético visits Getafe on Saturday.
For Messi, who scored a improbable aim in Paris and had a penalty saved by Keylor Navas, the elimination will go down as but a one other painful exit from the event that he final received, for a fourth time, in 2015.
Since then, Barcelona has confronted a number of lopsided losses within the knockout rounds. The humiliating 8-2 debacle in opposition to Bayern Munich final season prompted Messi to say he needed to go away the membership he has been part of for twenty years. Since then, he has saved quiet about his plans, besides to say that he’ll determine when his contract expires on the finish of the season.
Swayed by his previous relationship with Messi, Joan Laporta was elected as president once more final weekend by membership members. Laporta claimed he was one of the best man to speak Messi into remaining on the Camp Nou.
However till Messi truly indicators a brand new deal, all eyes can be on potential suitors. And PSG is a number one candidate since it’s considered one of a handful of golf equipment that might presumably afford a participant who presently makes 138 million euros ($167 million) per season.
Pochettino, the PSG coach, mentioned his hug with Messi after Wednesday’s match was “simply to say good day” to a participant who he coached in opposition to when he was at Espanyol. Di María, who pecked Messi on the top after the ultimate whistle, is a teammate on Argentina’s nationwide staff.
Whereas Mbappe’s future can also be doubtful together with his contract set to run out, Neymar could possibly be a lure for Messi. Neymar, whose contract can also be up after the season, has repeatedly mentioned he would like to remake the partnership he shared with Messi at Barcelona.
However Koeman hopes he can provide Messi a staff on the up because of his daring strikes to remake a squad that had as soon as received all of it, solely to slowly lose its competitiveness in Europe. Out went Luis Suárez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic final offseason, and in got here 18-year-olds Pedri González, Ansu Fati and Ilaix Moriba, amongst different promising abilities.
For Koeman, the primary factor that Barcelona lacked in opposition to PSG was the of entirety offered by Mbappe, who scored 4 targets within the combination 5-2 victory.
“I believe everybody might be pleased with the picture now we have proven,” Koeman mentioned. “As soon as once more this staff confirmed that it has an important future.”
Now the query is whether or not delight and promise are sufficient for Messi, now 33, to remain put.
Extra AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.