Madrid: FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said on Friday that the club needs to "close the book" on Lionel Messi and look to the future.
Messi's departure from Barca to join Paris Saint-Germain after it became impossible to fit his contract into the club's wage structure has been the shock of the summer and also a blow to Koeman, who had said he was counting on the forward for the new season.
Speaking to ESPN, Koeman expressed his disappointment at Messi's departure and said he was "surprised by the day and the moment when I knew that he had finished playing for Barcelona".
"It was difficult because we are not talking about just any player, we are talking about Lionel Messi, the best player in the world for many seasons, and we were all disappointed that he will not play for us this season," he said, before looking to the future.
"You have to change fast, because the new season is starting, and we can't remain disappointed at what has happened."
"We have to understand that there is always an end for a player. You have to close the book on Messi, because now we have to focus on this new season. We have new players [Memphis Depay, Emerson, Eric Garcia and the injured Sergio Aguero] and we have to move on," commented the coach, who also gave a nod to Barca's youth system.
"We have young players in the squad this season, and it is also for the future, we are working on the future of this club, and it is really important to focus on this and not focus on what happened in the last days."
"Of course we will have more problems scoring goals; Messi scored 30 goals last season, so other players have to contribute more and take the next step: it is more about the team now than the individual players," concluded Koeman.