Lionel Messi was a “tyrant” to Barcelona teammates in training says Ronald Koeman

Koeman coached the Argentine superstar last season prior to his switch to Paris Saint-Germain and he has now given revelations into how the 34-year-old acted in training

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has compared Lionel Messi to a “tyrant” when he in training sessions and explained how he hated losing against teammates.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner left the Catalan giants this summer to join Paris Saint-Germain which has allowed Koeman to now lift the lid on what the superstar was like to coach.

The Dutchman has claimed that Messi made all of his teammates appear to be better than their level because of how aware and technically gifted he was.

He also revealed how Messi already possessed all the attributes that a coach look for in a player and he was taken aback by his talents when seeing him “up close every day”.

Lionel Messi left Barcelona this summer to join Paris Saint-Germain

Koeman told an interview with Voetbal International, in quotes carried by : “Of course he had good players around him, but he made the difference. Everyone seems better than they are because of him. This is not a criticism, but an observation.

“I knew how good he is, but it’s still nice to see it up close every day. Everything you would like to teach a football player, in recognizing situations, in taking the ball under pressure, in ball speed, in finishing; with Messi everything is a 10. Not normal, not normal!

“When we did a finishing practice during training, there were sometimes players who started to hit easy balls, a bit of fooling around. But with Messi everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom. Never frills, everything functional. And always wanted to win everything.

“We always play a rondo before training. If the ball goes around 20 times, then the players in the middle must have an extra turn. If that happens three times in a row, the players will form two lines and the two who were in the middle then walk through and get taps on their heads and such.

“I asked Messi if it had happened to him once. ‘Yes, once,’ he said. In all those years. With him, the older players never lost an exercise against the young. It happened once and Messi was seriously angry about that for a week. Really, a tyrant.”

When Koeman was appointed at the Camp Nou last summer, Messi was pushing for an exit from the club and while the Dutch boss admitted those opening months were tough – the situation soon improved.

Koeman added: “When I first became coach, I had a conversation with him at his house in Castelldefels. What immediately struck me was how involved he felt and how much he is interested in football.

“The start was difficult, he later apologised for that. Messi must have the idea that there is a future in what he does. But he started to get more and more enthusiastic.

“The performance with Messi is perfect. We now sometimes do a pass and kick practices, where you had to shoot the ball into a small goal, around a post. The other day I saw Ansu Fati shoot three metres wide, simply due to lack of concentration. But he wouldn’t have done that if Messi had still been there. Then he got set right, Messi became furious. That never happened to [Messi].


Arab Observer

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