Messi has given Barca his maximum since ending transfer saga, Koeman says




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Soccer Football - Pre Season Friendly - FC Barcelona v Girona - Johan Cruyff Stadium, Barcelona, Spain - September 16, 2020 Barcelona's Lionel Messi shakes hands with coach Ronald Koeman as he is substituted off REUTERS/Albert Gea

Barcelona –  FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman says Lionel Messi has been the ideal captain and an example to the rest the team.

Koeman said this has been evident the way he has applied himself since deciding to stay at the club this season.

Messi gave an outstanding performance Barca’s 3-0 win over Celta Vigo on Thursday after playing the whole second half with 10 men.

His performance helped to crush any fears that the Argentine might lack commitment after the club refused to let him leave.

“From day one, Leo has trained and played well and has given the maximum for the club, for his team and for his team mates and I have had no complaints about him on any day,” Koeman said ahead Barca’s La Liga game at home to Sevilla on Sunday.

“He proved himself once again the other day against Celta Vigo. He pulled his weight as a captain, he helped the team play the ball out from the back because it’s so important to keep the ball when you have one less player.

“There’s no debate. For me he has always been the best player the world. I thought that before from the outside and I think it even more now I’m working with him. He’s fully committed, he’s an example to everyone as a captain should be.”

Koeman also praised the form Philippe Coutinho, who has thrived since returning from a loan spell at Bayern Munich, having flopped his first two seasons with the Catalans after a club record move from Liverpool in 2018.

“Coutinho is a very good player. He has learned a lot England and with Bayern Munich and my job as a coach is to get the best out each player and find their best role,” he said.

“A coach can help, but it all starts with the quality a player and Coutinho is a great footballer.”

The Dutchman also said Barca want to sign a striker and a centre-back before the transfer window shuts, confirming their interest in Manchester City defender Eric Garcia.

“We would like to sign this player. We have four centre-backs and we are short there. We know it’s difficult financially, but I hope we can get it done,” Koeman said.

(Reuters/NAN)