How Koeman plans to fit Messi into new-look Barcelona
Barcelona may still be struggling to come up with the money to sign Lionel Messi up to a new deal but manager Ronald Koeman is already planning his new team around the forward.
On 1 July 2021, Messi technically became a free agent and was able to join any club in the world, after his deal with the Catalan giants expired.
However, despite reports throughout the year suggesting a move to Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City could be on the cards, it seems as though Messi is set on staying put at Barca if a new deal can be hammered out.
While the big wigs in the club’s boardroom sweat over that, Koeman has apparently already begun drawing up plans for how he would like his team to look next season. And it involves a slight change of role for Messi.
How Barcelona could line up with Messi next season
Assuming Messi does stay put in Spain, it will be interesting to see how Koeman is likely to set up his front line.
The club already have a number of impressive attacking talents and have signed even more in the form of Memphis Depay from Lyon and Sergio Aguero from Man City.
Add to that Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele and you have plenty of competition for the two spots alongside Messi in attack.
However, according to Mundo Deportivo, Koeman plans on making the most of his new signings and could sideline a number of the aforementioned stars that underperformed for him last season.
Although Depay may wish to play as a traditional no.9 and Messi has grown used to playing in a more central role, Koeman will apparently look to play Aguero as his furthest forward player, with the former City talisman playing as Barcelona’s lone striker.
This would then mean playing Messi on one wing, with Depay on the other. And, quite notably, no space or consideration for stars like Coutinho, Griezmann or Dembele.
Could this mean such players are likely to depart the club this summer? It remains to be seen but it certainly seems likely.