‘It is impossible to play without him’ – Koeman hopes Messi commits to Barcelona

Ronald Koeman sincerely hopes Lionel Messi has not played his last game at the Nou Camp as the Dutchman does not know who else could score Barcelona’s goals.

Messi’s contract at Barca is still set to expire at the end of the season and, with no public declaration of a decision on his next move seemingly forthcoming from either player or club, it appears time is running out.

The Argentinian reached 30 goals for the LaLiga season with his opener against Celta Vigo on Sunday, but it proved to be in vain as Santi Mina’s subsequent brace handed the visitors all three points in a 2-1 victory.

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Barca’s title challenge was officially ended by the result and the Catalan club will finish outside the top two for the first time since 2008 as their Madrid rivals Real and Atletico are now out of reach.

Head coach Koeman, who reiterated his own desire to remain in charge next season, insists Messi committing to at least another year is vital if Barca are to thrive again.

Asked if Sunday’s match could have been the last time Messi ran out at the Nou Camp, he told Marca: “We hope not because he is still the best player in the world and he has shown today that it is impossible to play without him.

“He has already scored 30 goals that have earned this team a lot of points.

Celta Vigo’s Santi Mina fights for the ball against Barcelona’s Gerard Pique
Celta Vigo’s Santi Mina fights for the ball against Barcelona’s Gerard Pique (Joan Monfort/AP)

“It is a question for Leo to answer. As far as I’m concerned, and the team is concerned, we hope he stays because if we’re not going to have Leo we will have serious doubts about who is going to score so many goals.”

On the game itself, Koeman said: “The first half was a reflection of what has happened to us in more than one game. We play well with good opportunities and the opponent takes one and we go into the changing room at 1-1, which affects you a lot mentally.

“The second half was not so good, but even with one fewer player (Clement Lenglet saw red in last 10 minutes) we could have made it 2-1. In the end they won it 2-1 and that will happen when you’re unlucky.”