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Koeman opens up about Messi: 'He was a real tyrant in training'

Wed 22 September 2021 | 10:49

According to the Dutchman, the 34-year-old expected the finest from those around him and despised losing during training sessions.

Lionel Messi

was like a "tyrant" throughout training at Barcelona, according to

Ronald Koeman

Before leaving to join PSG this year, the Argentinian superstar lifted the Catalan club's standard, becoming one of the best players of all time in the game. 

Barca manager Koeman has spoken up about the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's behavior during team training, admitting that he would become enraged if he did not dominate games in the training ground.

"Lionel Messi has obscured everything. He was so good and he won," he told 

Voetbal International

"Of course he had good players around him, but he made the difference. Everyone seems better than they are because of him. This is not a criticism, but an observation.

"I knew how good he is, but it's still nice to see it up close every day. Everything you would like to teach a football player, in recognising situations, in taking the ball under pressure, in ball speed, in finishing; with Messi everything is a 10. Not normal, not normal!

"When we did a finishing practice during training, there were sometimes players who started to hit easy balls, a bit of fooling around. But with Messi everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom. Never frills, everything functional. And always wanted to win everything.

"We always play a rondo before training. If the ball goes around 20 times, then the players in the middle must have an extra turn. If that happens three times in a row, the players will form two lines and the two who were in the middle then walk through and get taps on their heads and such.

"I asked Messi if it had happened to him once. 'Yes, once,' he said. In all those years. With him, the older players never lost an exercise against the young. It happened once and Messi was seriously angry about that for a week. Really, a tyrant."

Messi's absence has been noticeable since he departed, according to Koeman. 

Some players, like Ansu Fati, are not working as hard as they were when the guy who inspired their club to win 10 La Liga championships and four Champions League trophies was around.

"When I first became coach, I had a conversation with him at his house in Castelldefels. What immediately struck me was how involved he felt and how much he is interested in football.

"The start was difficult, he later apologised for that. Messi must have the idea that there is a future in what he does. But he started to get more and more enthusiastic.

"The performance with Messi is perfect. We now sometimes do a pass and kick practices, where you had to shoot the ball into a small goal, around a post. The other day I saw Ansu Fati shoot three metres wide, simply due to lack of concentration. But he wouldn't have done that if Messi had still been there. Then he got set right, Messi became furious. That never happened to [Messi].

"I have never met anyone except Johan Cruyff with his football intelligence. Alfred [Schreuder, Koeman's assistant] sometimes explained the exercises in English and Messi does not speak that very well. But after a few seconds he knew it.

"He delivered 50 goals last year: 30 goals, 20 assists. He was an example for the players. When we won the cup, Messi had won so many trophies, bigger than this one, but you saw that the Copa del Rey really did something for him this time. With those young players in there, he saw the future of the club. All those guys wanted to take a picture with him, I've never seen anything like it.

"That's how big he was and is. It was a shock to the whole town that he's not here now."

 


source: SportMob

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