Ronald Koeman has revealed that Lionel Messi hated losing in training sessions – and was “seriously angry” when it once happened to him during his time at Barcelona.
The former Barca captain – who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain – has been known for his high standards, as well as expecting those high standards of others.
Over a playing career that has so far spanned 17 years at senior level, Messi has scored 474 goals in 522 appearances.
He has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards, as well as 10 LaLiga titles, seven Copa del Reys and four Champions League winners’ medals.
In the summer of 2021, he achieved something that had eluded him to that point – winning the Copa America with Argentina.
Barcelona manager Koeman has given an insight into what Messi was like during training sessions and, as you would expect, he hated losing.
The Dutchman – who managed Messi during last season – recalled one incident that left the Argentinian “seriously angry for a week” and called him a “tyrant” at training, such was his will to win.
He told Dutch outlet Voetbal International (quotes via Goal): “When we did a finishing practice during training, there were sometimes players who started to hit easy balls, a bit of fooling around. But with Messi everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom.
“Never frills, everything functional. And always wanted to win everything.”
Koeman continued: “We always play a rondo before training. If the ball goes around 20 times, then the players in the middle must have an extra turn. If that happens three times in a row, the players will form two lines and the two who were in the middle then walk through and get taps on their heads and such.
“I asked Messi if it had happened to him once. ‘Yes, once’, he said. In all those years.
“With him, the older players never lost an exercise against the young. It happened once and Messi was seriously angry about that for a week. Really, a tyrant.”
Koeman on Messi departure
Koeman also commented on Messi’s departure to PSG in the summer transfer window.
The Argentinian’s contract with Barca expired in June, and despite the club’s much-publicised financial issues, a renewal was still expected to go through.
However, it didn’t happen. Barcelona released a club statement on the evening of August 5, stating that Messi could not sign a new deal due to “financial and structural obstacles”, primarily LaLiga regulations on player registration.
Koeman said: “He delivered 50 goals last year: 30 goals, 20 assists. He was an example for the players.
“When we won the cup, Messi had won so many trophies, bigger than this one, but you saw the Copa del Rey really did something for him this time.
“With those young players in there, he saw the future of the club. All those guys wanted to take a picture with him, I’ve never seen anything like it.
“That’s how big he was and is. It was a shock to the whole town that he’s not here now.”
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