Ronald Koeman believes it is “absurd” that a report over Lionel Messi’s contract is still dominating headlines but has been delighted with the way his captain has responded.
The build-up to Barcelona’s Copa del Rey quarter-final at Granada has been overshadowed by an apparent leak of Messi’s deal at Camp Nou, which was signed in 2017.
A report by El Mundo on Sunday claimed the contract, which expires at the end of this season, is worth more than €555million.
It was already believed that Messi was on an extraordinary salary at Barcelona, given he is recognised by many as the greatest active player of the world’s most popular sport.
But the leaking of the exact sums payable to Messi has caused a stir, coming at a time when the embattled LaLiga giants are in financial trouble.
Koeman has previously rejected any suggestion that Messi’s contract was connected to Barcelona facing a financial hurdle.
He was unhappy that it remained the central story prior to Wednesday’s last-eight tie, with Barca favourites to win the cup due to Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid already being eliminated.
“It is something absurd that you [the media] have been on with this issue for three or four days,” Koeman said at his pre-match news conference.
“The team and Leo have responded in the way that I like, which is to try to leave the things from the press aside and concentrate on the game.
“I am happy with the team and how he [Messi] is currently working.”
Koeman has previously said anyone inside Barca who is found to have leaked sensitive details would be fired.
But he reiterated his comments made after Sunday’s 2-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao – where Messi scored his 650th club goal – that the leak could well have come from outside.
Koeman added: “It can come from many places, because there is always competition between the big clubs and there are people from outside with friends inside.
“As a coach I defend the players and the club. Leaks like these are not good and have bad intentions.
“When things come out it is important to be more united in the dressing room.”
Courtesy: AP News