New Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said he would be speaking to Lionel Messi about his future but also warned he only wanted to work with players who were committed to staying at the club.
‘I don’t know if I have to convince Messi,’ he told reporters at the Camp Nou. ‘He is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world in your team, not on the other side.
‘For my part, I would love to work with Messi. He wins football matches and I would be really happy if he decides to stay.’
But the 57-year-old former Barcelona defender added later in his first press conference: ‘I only want to work with players who want to be here and if they are not happy, let them say it.’
On the subject of Messi, he added: ‘He has a contract. He has one year left. He is a Barcelona player.’
Koeman was asked if he was going to name the players he wanted to depart, just as Pep Guardiola did in 2008 when he took over and revealed that he did not want Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o in his team in his first season.
The former Holland boss said: ‘I am not going to talk individually about any players. I know there are certain players of a certain age that there might be doubts about.
‘Out of respect to the players, I am not going to talk about individual players here.’
Pressed on whether this was a clearing out of older players, he added: ‘A 33-year-old player is not necessarily finished. It’s all about whether they have the hunger.
‘There are 20-year-olds who don’t have the hunger. We have to have the best for the team. I only want to work with players who will give the maximum for Barcelona.’
Presenting Koeman, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu made reference to his past as one of Johan Cruyff’s most important players and the club played a video of Koeman’s goal at Wembley that won Barcelona their first European Cup.
Koeman admitted he watched Bayern Munich’s 8-2 victory over Barcelona. He said: ‘I was very sad for the result, like all Barcelona fans.
‘That is not the image of the club we want. It was a sad day. But after a sad day, you hope for better days.
‘Everyone knows what Barca means to me. It’s my home. This is a challenge. Even in the good times, it’s not easy.
‘It’s difficult but I like a challenge and we have the players to win things.
‘We have to make some changes. We are going to work hard to put Barcelona on top. The team needs to play with more intensity.’
Asked about his style of play, he added: ‘I am Dutch and we prefer to have the ball rather than to be chasing after it.’
He has signed a two-year deal but he knows there are elections next March which will bring a different president who may have different ideas.
‘All I can do is get good results,’ he accepted. ‘I have a contract for two years and I know there will be elections. But there is never a lot of security [in any job].’