Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman said that he respectfully disagrees with the views of his predecessor Quique Setien, who claimed that Argentine superstar Lionel Messi was “difficult to manage.”
Dutch legend Koeman replaced Setien and inherited a club in turmoil following Messi’s failed gambit to leave the Camp Nou over the summer.
And the new gaffer said he has found Messi to be a much different character to the one portrayed by Setien.
“I think Messi is the best of all time,” Setien told El Pais.
“There have been other great players who have been great, but the continuity that this boy has had throughout the years has not been had by anyone.
“Leo is difficult to manage. Who am I to change him! If they have accepted him as he is for years and have not changed him.
“It’s something inherent in many athletes that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary (‘The Last Dance’). You see things you don’t expect. He’s very reserved but he makes you see the things that he wants. He doesn’t talk much.”
However, Koeman stated that he has a different view of Barca’s mercurial No. 10.
“I don’t agree with Setien but I respect his opinion and what he has experienced,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash against Dynamo Kyiv.
“Messi is a very good player, the best in the world. I see his ambition but he is not a player I have difficulty managing.
“Every coach is different – but for me, he is the captain and I talk to him every week about things in the dressing room and on the pitch and there is a good relationship.”
Barcelona hammered Hungarian side Ferencvaros 5-1 on Matchday 1 of the Champions League, then defeated Juventus 2-0, to put themselves in pole position at the top of Group G with six points out of six.