New Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has said that he does not know if he will have to “convince” Lionel Messi to stay at the club.
Koeman, 57, has signed a two-year deal with Barca, two days after the club sacked Quique Setien.
Messi’s future at the Nou Camp is uncertain after they failed to win a trophy last season for the first time since 2007-08.
“He’s still got a contract and is still a Barcelona player,” said Koeman.
“At this point I need to speak to him because he is the captain.
“We need to work with him and speak with various players. We need to make some decisions but in Messi’s case I hope he stays with us.
“I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (to stay), whether it’s that or not. He is the best player in the world and the best player in the world you want in your team, you don’t want him playing against you.
“As a coach I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. If he’s at the ability and level he has always shown I’d be more than happy for him to stay.”
Koeman has left his role as Netherlands boss, with two years left on his contract, to take over at Barca.
He played for the Spanish giants between 1989 and 1995, helping them to four league titles and the European Cup.
The Catalans finished second in La Liga last season. The five-point gap to champions Real Madrid and the humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final last week culminated in the dismissal of Setienon Monday.
The club also announced Ramon Planes as the new technical director. He was the assistant to Eric Abidal, who left his role as sporting director on Tuesday.
Barcelona President, Josep Maria Bartomeu, also revealed that Koeman has insisted on keeping Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou.
Bartomeu addressed the current crisis at the Catalan club, Messi’s contract situation and the imminent appointment of Koeman among other things yesterday.
“He wants to end his playing career at Barcelona,” Bartomeu said about Messi in an interview with Barca TV.
“Koeman is saying that the pillar of his project is Leo Messi.
“He has a contract until 2021. I talk to him regularly and he knows there’s a project with a new coach here. We’re all disappointed at the moment, but we’re motivated by the new project.
“His father told me that there was a strong disappointment. This is correct, but since Sunday we have to think about the future. It’s about changing the mentality.”
Bartomeu went on to confirm that Koeman was and has been their leading candidate for the coach’s job for some time.
“If nothing goes wrong, he’ll be Barcelona coach next season,” the president said about the Dutchman.
“He knows our philosophy very well and he believes in the club’s style of play. The first thing he has to do is talk to the captains.
“In December, we started talking to various coaches. Back then, we denied it, but now I can explain.
“Koeman told us he had a responsibility with the Netherlands ahead of the Euros. He was the first coach we contacted. Coaching Barcelona is a dream for Koeman.”
Quique Setien was sacked after the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, while some fingers have been pointed at Bartomeu and his board.
“The responsibility is shared. Who has most responsibility is the Board of Directors and their president,” Bartomeu added.
“We are all responsible for the result in Lisbon.
“After Liverpool I thought it was right to retain confidence in Valverde and the players. I consulted everyone and I believed that we had to give those players and coaches a chance.
“Then there was no need for new blood but now, yes. We all agree it is the moment to do it.
“The players are regularly consulted, the employees and the executives but the one responsible for the sporting crisis is the president.
“There is a sporting crisis. We have a football crisis; not an institutional crisis nor a crisis of model.
“The model and the style of play is the same, but there are aspects of the model that have to be improved.”