'Messi talk needs to stop' - Koeman tells Barcelona chiefs to cut out comments as he hints at Neymar interest

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Lionel Messi Barcelona 2020-21
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The Camp Nou coach believes the relentless commentary from within the club's ranks about the Argentine's future is an unhelpful distraction

Ronald Koeman has told Barcelona senior figures to stop making public declarations about the touchy subject of Lionel Messi's future.

The head coach spoke out after interim president Carlos Tusquets said this week the club should have sold Messi during the close season.

Candidates for the Barcelona presidency have also spoken at length about the 33-year-old Argentinian, but Koeman believes it is unhelpful for such figures to fuel speculation.

At the same time, Koeman said in his news conference on Friday that Barcelona supporters would always want to have the best players at the club, in response to Neymar's suggestion he wished to be reunited with Messi.

But when it comes to talking to the media about Messi, who is into the final year of his contract with his future plans unclear, Koeman says the time has come for the commentary coming out of Barcelona to stop.

"We know the situation with Leo," Koeman said. "If there is someone who can say, it is Leo himself, the comments from outside do not interest me.

"If we make them within the club they do not help us to have peace of mind to do our work. We cannot control the comments from the outside, from the inside it is different."

Barcelona play Cadiz in La Liga on Saturday and are already well off the pace this season, with any distractions to team harmony considered highly unhelpful.

Asked about Tusquets' remarks, Koeman said: "I respect opinions, but Messi must decide his future and I don't like comments in that sense."

The message from Koeman was clear: that he will stay out of the business of the presidential candidates and they should avoid being disruptive to his job of running the team.

"I have already said several times that I am not worried because I do not know what will happen in the elections," he said. "When it is known, we will talk. Until then, the best thing I can do is focus on the games."

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When asked about the possibility of Messi and Neymar playing on the same side again, Koeman expressed cautious enthusiasm.

The forward, who spent four years at Barcelona before Paris Saint-Germain bought him out of his contract in 2017 for €222 million (£200m/$269m), said this week that he wished to play on the same team as Messi next year.

Koeman said: "I don't like to talk about individual cases, but as a cule [a Barcelona fanatic] you want to see the best in your team."

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