Barcelona coach, Ronald Koeman has said that Lionel Messi has not been at his best since attempting to leave the club in the summer.
Messi, 33, has scored just once, a penalty against Villarreal in four games this season after agreeing to stay at Barca until the end of his current contract, which will expire in June 2021.
He failed to score for the third consecutive game as Barca were beaten by Getafe on Saturday but Koeman has backed him to deliver this week’s games against Ferencvaros and Real Madrid.
“Maybe, at the moment, Messi’s performances could be better,” the Dutchman said ahead of Barca’s return to European action against the Hungarian champions at Camp Nou, today”.
“But he is happy, he is working hard and he wants to be the captain. I don’t have a single complaint. He hit the post in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Getafe.
“I don’t have any doubts about his performances and we’re going to see him in the upcoming games, I’m sure.”
Messi told the club of his desire to leave after the 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich in August, but they returned to European action this week with renewed hopes.
Despite that, exit at the hands of Roma, Liverpool and Bayern in the last three years still haunt the club. Koeman said Barcelona can no longer be considered the outright favourites to win the competition because of that.
“But seeing what’s happened in recent seasons, I can say we are not the favourites. We are one of the teams that can go far in the competition, but not the favourites.”