Besieged Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu refused to accept the 33-year-old’s claim he could leave the club for free – and insisted that the £ 630million buyout clause in his contract would have to be fulfilled in full for him to leave.
But while Koeman has been delighted with Messi’s response, he has already agreed not to work with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner beyond the current season.
Koeman said: “I always hoped Messi would stay this season. If he had left this summer, I would have had a very different situation at Barca.
“He wanted to leave but the club was very clear to him. The buyout clause was so high that not a single club in the world was going to pay for it at that time.
“I went to his house and took the time to listen to everything he said. But I also explained to him that I was not part of the problems he had with the club and told him how I was going to work to change things.
“We ended up talking about football tactics. It ended with a real discussion about football and it convinced me that he is a true lover of the game and that he always wanted to put everything he has in Barcelona.
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Koeman’s admission that he doesn’t rely on Messi beyond the current season is huge news for City as they look to secure Guardiola’s future.
The Catalan has been a close friend of the Dutchman since they were teammates in the Barcelona squad which lifted the club’s first European Cup in 1992.
Guardiola’s contract expires at the end of the season after five years at Manchester.
And it is unthinkable that Messi would agree to sign for the Blues without Guardiola signing a new agreement.
Koeman was extremely impressed with the Argentine’s attitude and form.
Can Messi lead Barcelona to La Liga or Champions League glory in what is likely his last season at Camp Nou? Give your opinion here.
He added: “It was more about how I was going to put Leo’s spirit in the right frame on and off the pitch.
“I had to prove him right as a person and as a player. When he came back for training I could only see good signs. His attitude, his mind – I couldn’t fault him.
“He’s always superb. What’s great about Messi is that when he sees a ball he’s having fun. The way he sees things in a game is absolutely fantastic.
“He’s not only smart as a player, he also executes every action with the ball with the utmost perfection. ”
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