Barcelona's manager, Ronald Koeman, identified Messi's departure as the team's main problem at the start of the season.
"Lionel Messi used to make everything on the team look better. He was too good and won everything. Of course, he had great players by his side, but him on his own could win you games. Thanks to him everyone looked better. It's not a criticism on the current squad, just an observation" said Koeman for the Dutch magazine, 'Voetbal International'.
The Dutch manager is now used to criticism after Bayern's 3-0 defeat in the Champions League, but he said he didn't read what the press had to say about him because he has now "stopped reading newspapers and web pages".
After the Champions League defeat, Barcelona's president Joan Laporta said he felt "hurt and indignant" as well as asking supporters for patience. Koeman said he completely "understands the president's feelings".
"I'm also not happy to lose against Bayern Munich. But we need to see things straight", said the Dutchman.
Koeman said he is "not surprised" with the rumors suggesting he will leave the club."I don't want to make a scene or anyone to feel sorry about me. If you work here in Barcelona, you need to get results. It is that simple".
Barcelona's economy and the Nederlands
When asked about Barcelona's financial situation, he said: "I knew it wasn't good when I arrived, but I wasn't expecting it to be this bad. Laporta didn't know about it either. He was also surprised".
Koeman resigned as the Netherlands coach to become Barcelona's manager. The Dutch team lost 0-2 against the Cech Republic in the Euro 2020, which had Frank de Boer, Koeman's replacement, fired.
"It was really painful to watch", Koeman said.
Despite Koeman's situation at Barça, he claims that he does not regret leaving the Netherlands team for Barcelona. "Even if I knew how difficult the current situation is, I wouldn't want it to happen any other way".
Standout matches today