The former Real Madrid and AC Milan midfielder has backed the new Blaugrana boss to get the best out of the club’s disillusioned talisman
Lionel Messi had every right to speak out at Barcelona earlier this summer, but Ronald Koeman can bring him back in harmony with the rest of the squad, says Clarence Seedorf.
Messi very nearly called time on his glorious 16-year career at Camp Nou at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, which ended in abject disappointment for the Blaugrana.
Barca failed to win a trophy for the first time in over a decade, and exited the Champions League in humiliating fashion at the hands of Bayern Munich, sparking a mass squad overhaul in the summer transfer window.
Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur, Nelson Semedo and Luis Suarez were among those to depart, but Messi was the first to try and push for an exit as he handed in a formal transfer request in August.
The Argentine sought to activate the release clause in his contract, but Barca and La Liga both insisted that his existing deal, which is due to run until 2021, remained valid following the coronavirus-enforced break in the season.
Messi could, therefore, only leave if his €700 million (£636m/$823m) buy-out clause was triggered, and in order to avoid a legal battle, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner confirmed he’d be staying put during an exclusive interview with Goal at the start of September.
The 33-year-old also admitted to having grown frustrated with the way the club has been run at boardroom level in recent years, and bemoaned the fact that the squad is no longer strong enough to compete at the highest level.
Milan legend Seedorf, who is currently the only player to have ever won the Champions League with three different clubs, thinks Messi may have decided to voice his concerns in order to reignite a lost spark within himself.
Regarding the Barca superstar’s comments, the former Ajax and Real Madrid midfielder told Goal: “I don’t generally judge anything when I read them, because we never know the reasons why somebody is saying certain things – what’s happening behind the scenes? I’ve been around too long to go and judge interviews of players or anybody.
“What I do think is that Messi has earned his stripes, and I think that if he feels like expressing himself the way he did, he knows the consequences of it eventually and he’s ready to take them.
“Who knows? It’s a way of motivating himself as well, sometimes you speak out and then you know that you need to perform to be right, so it can be a tactic… I don’t know!”
Messi has got back to what he does best at the start of the new season, scoring once in Barca’s first three La Liga outings under new head coach Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien earlier this summer.
Seedorf believes the ex-Netherlands manager will help a prized asset settle back into his usual groove at Camp Nou, and that he will make the right choices for the club going forward as they bid to compete for major honours once again.
“I think they made a good choice with Koeman. He has experience and he’s a legend of the club, so that’d bring some peace and some credit for him to do his job,” the Dutchman added.
“I think he’d be able to reconcile with Messi and bring Messi back in harmony with everybody in the whole situation. I think he is ready to make some choices, if he needs to make some choices for players to leave or to give new opportunities and also play a different game maybe.
“So yes, I’m confident because I’d like to see the league competitive and if Barcelona is competitive, I think for Madrid it’s also better, because they’ll have more fire in themselves as well.
“We as football lovers want to see the best teams always compete, that makes the league interesting. No disrespect to Atletico Madrid, who for sure will be competitive again like they have been. Sevilla have been amazing in the last years as well – who knows?
“But it’s nice to see a legend of the club like Koeman on the bench.”