Koeman frustrated at Barca president's Messi comments

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group G - Ferencvaros v FC Barcelona - Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary - December 2, 2020 Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

MADRID (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman criticised on Friday comments from the club's interim president Carlos Tusquets, who said this week that it was in the Catalan side's economic interests to have cashed in on Lionel Messi.

Barca's all-time top scorer Messi attempted to leave the Camp Nou in the close season, and is expected to walk away on a free transfer when his current contract expires in June.

Tusquets, who also described the club's economic situation as worrying, said selling Messi would have been "desirable" in terms of lowering the club's wage bill and the money made from a transfer.

"We know what Leo's situation is," Koeman told a news conference.

"If there's anyone who needs to decide about his future, it's Leo himself. I don't care what's said outside the club, however comments from inside the club don't help us have the calmness we need to do our job.

"We can't control what's said outside, but from within it's a different story.

"It (selling Messi in the transfer window) might have been his (Tusquets') personal opinion and I respect that, but Leo's got a year left on his deal and he is the one who needs to decide."

Koeman was talking ahead of Saturday's visit to Cadiz. The promoted side have already beaten Real Madrid this season and with Barca lagging behind in the title race, Koeman admits they can ill-afford another slip-up.

"Right now I think Atletico Madrid are looking strong. They don't let many goals in and win games.

"It's a long season, lots can happen, but we cannot afford to drop any more points. We need to win every game we have left this year."

Barca, who sit seventh in the table, will be without the injured quartet of Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati for the trip to Andalusia.

(Reporting by Joseph Walker; Editing by Toby Davis)

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