Ronald Koeman admits he is “not confident” that Lionel Messi will still be at Barcelona next season.
The Argentina international is out of contract in June and has yet to make a decision on his future.
Barcelona (opens in new tab) are still keen to keep hold of their greatest ever player, but their precarious finances complicate matters.
Messi may also wait until the outcome of March’s presidential election before deciding whether or not to commit his future to the Blaugrana.
And in an interview with The Athletic (opens in new tab), Koeman admitted that Messi could be nearing the end of his extraordinary Barcelona career.
“I’m not confident about that,” the Barcelona boss said when asked about retaining Messi.
“I’m hopeful, yes, about this because he’s still a great player and he’s still winning matches for us, for the team.
“I’m enjoying being his coach, if you look at his qualities every day in the training sessions, it’s incredible.
“Of course, he came as a young kid to Barcelona. And I still don’t see Leo Messi in another shirt other than the Barca shirt.”
Messi attempted to leave Barcelona last summer after growing dissatisfied with life at the Camp Nou.
And Koeman explains that Messi’s desire to seek pastures new came because he was unhappy in the wake of the team’s Champions League exit.
“It was a difficult time because he's still the best player, but he was angry,” he added.
“He was not happy that he was in a team who lost 8-2 against Bayern Munich (opens in new tab). He wanted to leave. I said to the club, 'okay, it's not my problem. It's a problem between the club and Leo Messi. And you have to resolve that'.
“Finally the club said, 'okay, we don't make a transfer for him. He needs to stay'. It was a difficult time for Leo but he finally accepted [the situation].
“I spoke to him in his house before we started the season, and I made plans with him and he was really enthusiastic. Finally, little by little, he accepted that situation.”
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