Barcelona coach overhears common discussion about Messi from opposing players
Ronald Koeman's assistant coach at Barcelona, Alfred Schreuder, has spoken about the way La Liga sides attempt to deal with Lionel Messi, claiming they are "willing to do everything that is forbidden" to stop him.
Messi is often targeted by opponents and the fact that there are no fans in attendance at La Liga games means Schreuder has overheard opposition players encouraging each other to "foul" and "kick" the forward.
Speaking to AD, Schreuder explained: "Getafe, Atletico Madrid, Bilbao are willing to do everything that is forbidden.
"Messi will be hit five or six times in matches. Without a crowd you literally hear what opponents say to each other. When Leo gets the ball, you hear, 'Foul! Kick him down!'
"But that does not work and then they beat him down. Just like that, with the palm of their hand.
"That would always be red card in the Netherlands. Here in Spain? Yellow. And then we play on. In a way that is also nice, wanting to do everything to win."
With Messi's contract due to expire at the end of the season, his long-term future at Barcelona is in doubt but Schreuder believes the forward is still happy at the Nou Camp.
"It is nice to see how players like Messi, [Sergio] Busquets and [Gerard] Pique have acted," he added.
"They have won everything, they have already been through everything, but they are still as happy as children. It indicates that there is energy in the team. Fun. And also development.
"Sure, this is not the Barcelona of seven or eight years ago. But the team is really moving forward."
Speaking to Spanish TV channel La Sexta back in December, Messi explained that he was planning to wait until the end of the season to decide where his future lies.
"I don't know what I'm going to do yet," he said. "I'm going to wait until the season ends. I would like to play in the United States and experience life and the league there, but ultimately come back to Barcelona in some capacity.
"Right now the most important thing is to focus on the team and finish the season well, to focus on trying to win trophies and not get distracted by other things."
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