Ousmane Dembele, Pedri, and Lionel Messi
Former FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has claimed that Lionel Messi favoured a specific star over the rest of his former teammates at the Camp Nou during his last season at the club.
Messi had a turbulent final campaign with Barca in 2020/21, when they finished third on the LaLiga table, seven points behind league champions Atletico Madrid.
With the Blaugrana failing to renew his deal as they had promised, it was after that campaign that he left Spain for Paris Saint-Germain.
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Prior to that season, the Spanish club had completed a major overhaul, which saw the likes of Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo, Ivan Rakitic and Messi’s good friend Luis Suarez leave the team.
The Argentine was then left with a relatively youthful side to compete with, comprising the likes of La Masia graduates Ansu Fati, Ronaldo Araujo, and Riqui Puig, as well as new signings Frenkie de Jong and Pedri, with the latter having returned from a season-long loan at UD Las Palmas after being signed by Barca in 2019.
Despite the team’s struggles in the 2020/21 season, Messi enjoyed a good campaign individually, winning the LaLiga Golden Boot, called the Pichichi Trophy in Spain, after scoring 30 goals in the Spanish top flight.
While things didn’t go according to plan for the team as a collective, with the Blaugrana also bowing out of the UEFA Champions League at the round of 16 stage, Messi built a strong chemistry with some of his young teammates at the time.
Then-manager Koeman has now claimed that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was interested in linking up with Pedri more than any other player in the squad.
Speaking on Andy van der Meijde’s YouTube channel, the current Netherlands boss said: “Messi was very humble.
“He immediately noticed Pedri’s qualities and was willing to combine with him during games, unlike with some other players.”
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Last November, meanwhile, Pedri revealed his admiration for the Albiceleste skipper, insisting that the 2022 FIFA World Cup winner is the best player he has played with in his young career so far.
“Messi used to give us advice on how to be calm during matches,” the 20-year-old told EFE.
“He always told us to feel free on the pitch.
“Leo Messi is the best player I have ever seen. To have had the chance to play with him is an honour.
“He always had a great attitude towards me and treated me very well from the moment I met him.”
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