Messi scored four goals to help Argentina achieve glory and was considered a great player by Barcelona next season despite uncertainties about his future.
“It is vitally important. For what he brings to the team, he is the captain and an example. Messi scored four goals to lead Argentina to Copa América glory, having scored 38 goals in all competitions last season when Barça won the Copa del Rey but finished third in La Liga.
And Koeman said: “His score was brilliant despite a rough start. He has repeatedly shown that he is the best in the world. I know how badly he wanted to win the Copa America and he did it.”
The Barça coach said experienced players such as Messi, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba will have an important role to play in Blaugraunas’ bid to return to the top at national and European level next season. “The most veteran players have their place in the team, they showed it last year and it’s important that they stay with us,” Koeman told Mundo Deportivo.
“At a club like Barça, there has to be a balance between the oldest and the youngest. We need the oldest because we always have to look for balance, a balance in the squad.”
Messi won the Olympics with Argentina in 2008 and this summer Koeman will lose Pedri at the Games after the 18-year-old played for Spain in Euro 2020.
Despite everything, the Barça coach expects great things from the teenager during the coming season.
“He had a great Euro 2020,” said Koeman. “With just 18 years left for the season he’s had, playing with a lot of maturity, it’s really amazing.
“He keeps getting better, he’s a good boy and he lives for football.
“It’s a shame for us that he goes to the Olympics, but he knows we expect a lot from him and we trust him and he knows he has a coach who isn’t afraid to give them a chance. Young players.