Ronald Koeman has spoken exclusively to SPORT and has explained how he tried to convince Lionel Messi to stay with the team after a difficult summer.
The full interview will be released online on Wednesday but SPORT can offer an advance of the Dutch coach's comments.
"When I arrived, they told me Messi was unhappy," Koeman said. "We spoke at his house. He explained his reasons and I was honest. I told him that the only things I could change were football things: the system of play, his position on the pitch, his importance in the team. But the issues he had with the club, I could not change them.
"Messi demonstrated to me that he's a person that wants to win things, be the best and continue being the best, even though he's had his problems with the club."
Koeman also wanted to end any debate about Messi's ability: "Right now, Barça have been, are and are going to be a better team with Messi than without Messi."
THE 'griezmann CASE'
Koeman also spoke about Antoine Griezmann's delicate case at the club, saying that "we have to recover" the French player and asking him to score more goals.
He said: "He's working well, although he said himself a few weeks ago his performances have to improve. The players pass through moments of doubts and we have to help them find their best form, but at the end of the day it's in the hands of the player."