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Football Reporting


Record-breaker Messi is happy at Barcelona, insists Koeman

The Blaugrana head coach feels his superstar forward is happy following his latest record-breaking efforts

Ronald Koeman believes Lionel Messi is happy at Barcelona after another record-breaking performance by the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Messi scored the third goal in a 3-0 La Liga win over Real Valladolid on Tuesday – the superstar captain’s 644th strike for Barca as he surpassed Pele for the all-time record amount of goals for a single club .

First-half goals from Clement Lenglet and Martin Braithwaite gave Barca a cushion at Estadio Jose Zorrilla before Messi overtook the record set by Pele during 18 years at Brazilian club Santos.

Although Messi expressed his desire to leave La Liga giants Barca after 19 years during the off-season, Koeman believes his talisman is now happy.

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“I’ve said it a lot,” Barca head coach Koeman said. “I see Leo happy here.

“He’s very important for us with his creativity.

“You can see that when there are good players alongside him.”

Koeman switched to a three-man back line for the trip to Valladolid after Barca’s defence were left exposed in the 2-2 draw against Valencia on Saturday.

Barca kept the hosts subdued until goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a double save in the 71st minute when the Catalans were holding a comfortable three-goal lead.

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“We changed to improve the defence and the wings,” Dutchman Koeman added.

“We’ve seen a very serious performance with good concentration and good chances created.”

Pedri provided the delivery for Lenglet’s opener and claimed his second assist with return pass to Messi, as Koeman reserved praise for both the 18-year-old and his midfield partner Miralem Pjanic.

“Pedri is a very good player when he plays in the middle,” said Koeman. “Pjanic had to wait for his chance but he played a great game. He was good with the ball, but also defensively.”

Fifth-placed Barca are eight points adrift of La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, with Koeman’s side scheduled to host struggling Eibar on December 29.

The Catalans will begin the New Year on the road versus Huesca on January 3, before staying away from home to take on Athletic Club (Jan 6) and Granada (Jan 9).

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