Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has passionately defended Lionel Messi’s work rate after the Argentine was slammed over a widely circulated clip showing him walking around against Dynamo Kyiv.
Messi scored from the spot early on in the Champions League clash to help secure a 2-1 victory at Camp Nou in midweek, though he was ridiculed for failing to close down a Dynamo defender in second-half injury time.
The clip went viral, with Messi appearing to show no interest in winning back the ball despite Barca only defending a narrow one-goal lead.
However, Koeman says the footage has been taken out of context – with longer clips showing Messi chasing down players in added time – and is adamant the veteran is still a fundamental part of the Barcelona team despite a slight dip in performances.
‘I didn’t seem him [walking] and I’m not interested in this because I don’t see him walking,’ said the Dutchman at press conference in Friday.
‘If you want to start a controversy around this point, it’s your problem.
‘Messi is mentally good, enjoying this sport. He’s a winner and sometimes you go through moments when the ball doesn’t go in, but he looks really focused on that subject.
‘I think Messi still has so many qualities. He’s very important in our game. He scored the penalty and we’re used to him making the difference here, and he’s still a very decisive player.
‘You said [the footage was from] the 93rd minute – there are pictures of anyone, of me when I’m sitting down, or annoyed.
‘It seems we should be more aware of our image than our work. I don’t agree with that.
‘I think these players, like those of my era, have the same effort as us.
‘They work in training, they want to win and it annoys them when they don’t win. If it were not like this, it’d be because my work isn’t working.’
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