Koeman’s private pep talk with Griezmann before Messi’s Barcelona bombshell

Ronald Koeman has promised to make Antoine Griezmann a pivotal part of his Barcelona attack – even if Lionel Messi remains at the Nou Camp.

The French forward arrived at the Spanish giants last summer but struggled to justify the £107million Barca paid to prise him from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

Indeed, Griezmann was ultimately forced to play second fiddle to Messi in Barca's attack under Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien.

But following Koeman's arrival as Barcelona's manager, the Dutchman has seemingly made it clear he wants to stamp his authority on the club.

And according to L'Equipe, via Mundo Deportivo, the new boss has already outlined his vision for Griezmann.

The striker became an integral figure during his stint with Atletico, netting 133 goals, and it is those performances which have persuaded Koeman to put his faith in Griezmann.

The French outlet claims that Koeman spoke to the player last week and said he will be given a central role in his attack.

This discussion, it is understood, took place before Messi rocked the Catalan giants on Tuesday night, when it is understood he asked for his contract, which has a year still to run, to be terminated under an end-of-season release clause.

It has also been claimed that Koeman gave Griezmann a pep talk and said: "You did it at Atletico and you will do it at Barca."

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The forward is understood to have been boosted by this chat, having been left out of big games including the Champions League tie with Bayern Munich by former boss Setien.

The new manager also confirmed his desire to play the French star in a more central role during a recent press conference.

"With all due respect, but Griezmann is no winger," he told Dutch media outlet NOS .

"Griezmann has to play on a position where he is used to play, and that fits his qualities. As a coach, it all starts with playing your players on the right position."

Koeman may now have no chance but to prioritise Griezmann after Messi dropped his transfer bombshell.

Manchester City are expected to be one of the clubs in the running to sign Messi after the Argentina international expressed his desire to leave the Nou Camp this summer

Messi has informed the Spanish giants that he wants to depart, with the 33-year-old sending a fax to the club on Tuesday asking to have his contract terminated.

Reports claim the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has a clause in his contract which, if activated, would allow him to walk away from Barcelona for free and this is likely to spark a scramble for the playmaker's signature.

City are likely to be linked with a move for Messi, with a move to the Etihad bringing a reunion with former boss Pep Guardiola.

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