FC Barcelona Are “Better” Structurally Without Lionel Messi – Koeman Claims

Barcelona structurally better without Messi, says Koeman – Last month, the LaLiga heavyweights were startled when Messi left on a free transfer to join Paris Saint-Germain after failing to meet the terms of a new deal.

Messi’s departure has left a significant vacuum at Camp Nou, with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner scoring 672 goals and assisting 265 in 778 games for the Catalan club.

READ: Messi Receives A Thunderous Ovation After Being Presented At The Parc Des Princes

Barça have started the post-Messi era with two wins and a draw in their opening three league matches, scoring seven goals in the process, and Koeman believes his side are adjusting to life without their greatest ever player.

“It was a huge blow to lose him,” Koeman told a local Catalan daily. “We had planned for the season with him. “We lose so much and it took a few days to get things in order, but we must turn the page and build the team. “Losing Messi doesn’t oblige us to play different tactically but there are things without the ball where the team can improve.

“We won’t have the individual quality of Leo, but in pressing and structuring the team, the team is better now.”

Griezmann Departs
Antoine Griezmann is another high-profile forward to have left Catalonia last month, the France international returning to Atletico Madrid on an initial loan just two years after swapping clubs.

Koeman understands the club’s decision to let Griezmann depart in the final stages of the window, with Luuk de Jong arriving from Sevilla as a replacement.

“The aggravation we had on the last day, with practically no time to find a solution, it was a b****,” Koeman said.

“Griezmann had a great contract and if he left it was going to help improve the financial situation of the club. That’s why I agreed to his departure.”

Memphis hopes
Koeman has repeatedly called on his other attacking players to step up and new recruit Memphis Depay has done exactly that with two goals and an assist in his first three competitive games for Barcelona.

Depay also scored his first international hat-trick for the Netherlands in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over Turkey to move level with Johan Cruyff and Abe Lenstra in Oranje’s list of all-time top scorers.

President Joan Laporta revealed this week Depay’s number nine shirt is now the biggest seller at BarΓ§a and Koeman has backed his compatriot to be the face of the club for years to come.

“Memphis can mark an era at BarΓ§a,” Koeman said. “He has something that is essential to be a success here: personality and character.

“There’s something different about him and he’s really motivated by the challenge of being here.”

He added: “There are always things to improve but I’ll tell you one thing: if we have everyone available, we can do big things.

“We have a great team. We still have to be realistic, it will be difficult, but I am optimistic and ambitious.”

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