Koeman thrilled with Messi, Pedri partnership against Bilbao

Koeman thrilled with Messi, Pedri partnership against Bilbao”

Ronald Koeman's Barcelona is unbeaten in seven La Liga matches after the win, with Pedri scoring and assisting one of two Messi goals.

Inaki Williams raced clear to put the hosts, who had Marcelino in charge for the first time, in front inside three minutes of Wednesday's LaLiga clash.

Messi has said he will delay a decision on his future until the end of the season, despite wanting to quit Barcelona last summer when Josep Maria Bartomeu was still president and admitting the club will struggle to compete for the biggest trophies over the next couple of years given their financial troubles.

Barca, who are fifth on 28 points from 16 games and trail leaders Atletico Madrid by 10 having played a game more, have lost 1-0 on their last two visits to Athletic in all competitions and last scored there in a 2-0 win in 2017. "If not, we continue with what we have", the former Barca player said, as he already granted an exit voucher to Spanish midfielder Carles Alena, likely to be loaned to Getafe.

"Every coach always looks at the month of January as a chance to improve their squad and I'm the same", he told a news conference on the eve of their game at Athletic Bilbao.

The Dutchman also praised Messi, who produced arguably his best performance of the season and was unlucky not to grab a hat trick. When they score so early, it's normal to dip.

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Messi has had a relatively poor season by his own standards but his scores took him on to nine goals for the campaign, making him the joint top scorer in La Liga.

'Messi has given everything since day one, he has spent so many years at the very top level but it seems that now he has become even more effective, Koeman said.

Athletic forward Williams said his side had played well but were powerless to stop Barca when Messi was on top form.

"I would have liked him to say in his interview the other week that his desire is to stay at the club, but he didn't and now we have to wait and see".

"The goals they scored were fantastic and there's very little you can do to defend against plays like that".

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