Ronald Koeman hopes Lionel Messi will stick around for 'great future' at Barcelona

Tom Gott
Ronald Koeman hopes Lionel Messi will see the bigger picture
Ronald Koeman hopes Lionel Messi will see the bigger picture / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman hopes Lionel Messi will not be disheartened by the team's exit from the Champions League and instead focus on all signs of improvement.

The Spanish side crashed out in the last 16 at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain, whose 4-1 victory from the first leg ensured a 1-1 draw on Wednesday was good enough to see them through to the next round.

While elimination obviously hurts, Barcelona put up a real fight. Since that first-leg drubbing, La Blaugrana have shown immense improvement, with their comeback against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey arguably the best moment of the season for them. Koeman admitted after the game that he hopes Messi will be able to see a bright future for Barcelona.

"Leo has seen for quite some time that the team is improving thanks to all the changes we've made," Koeman began (via BBC Sport).

"Particularly, we have young players of great quality. We've got a great future ahead. Leo can't have any doubts about what the future holds for this team.

"We are departing this Champions League in a very different manner from the way we did last season. In this game, we hit our level and that's the road we have to follow."

The performance earned Barcelona plenty of plaudits, including from former midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who tweeted: "Playing like this, a title at the end of the season is more than possible."

Lionel Messi, Ronald Koeman
Koeman believes Barcelona are trending in the right direction / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Messi's future still remains up in the air. His contract is up at the end of the season, but it was thought that the Argentine was always prepared to wait until after March's presidential elections before seriously evaluating his future.

Joan Laporta is the new president at the club, and according to Jose Antonio Ponseti, his arrival has already forced Messi to put the brakes on plans for a move away.

Ponseti told Cadena SER's Carrusel Deportivo that Messi's father and agent have already cancelled a meeting set up to discuss Messi potentially moving to Paris - talks were expected to revolve around living in the city, not a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain - but Messi has promised Laporta that he will listen to his plea before making any decisions.

Joan Laporta
Laporta is desperate to keep Messi / LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

It is the first time that Messi's camp has shown a willingness to sit down with Barcelona to talk about the future, with Laporta known to be desperate to appease the Argentine and keep him at Camp Nou for the rest of his career.

Ponseti insisted that there was a 50% chance that Messi would stay at Camp Nou, before claiming that 'whatever happens, he will be in Miami in two years anyway'.

Messi is thought to be interested by the idea of ending his career in Major League Soccer, and these comments will only step up the hype around a potential switch to David Beckham's Inter Miami.

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