The Argentina star can leave the club for free at the end of the season but the coach believes there is still a chance they can persuade him to stay

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman still hopes Lionel Messi will stay at the club next season.

The Argentine may have played his final game for the Catalan side after Koeman permitted him to miss training and sit out their upcoming clash with Eibar.

Messi wanted to leave Camp Nou last year and could still depart for free when his contract expires in the summer, but the club have not given up on convincing him to stay.   

What has been said?

“Hopefully he will continue here for many years,” Koeman told reporters when asked if Messi will still be there next season. 

“He is a unique player. He is a 10 as a professional. If he does not stay, Barca will have to train other players and seek effectiveness in other footballers.

“Leo has scored 30 goals this season, with him the team has come much further.”

Will Koeman remain in charge?

Despite Messi’s impressive goal haul this season, Barca have dropped out of the title race in La Liga.

Koeman’s team cannot finish higher than third in the table as they prepare for the final game of the season.

Pressure has been building on the Dutch coach as a result of their disappointing campaign and he admits he does not know if he will be sacked.

“I don’t know [if I will stay]. Really, I don’t know,” he said.

“I haven’t spoken to the president since lunch. We will speak after tomorrow’s engagement.

“I have said from day one that I want to continue. We have to change things, but I want to continue. The last word will be for the president.”

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