Ahead of his side's kick-off to their Champions League campaign, Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman offered a frank assessment of Lionel Messi's play thus far in the new season.
"I don't have any complaints or doubts about his effort," Koeman said before Tuesday's match with Hungarian side Ferencvaros at Camp Nou. "Right now, his performances could be better. On a day-to-day basis, he's happy and wants to play and be the team's captain."
Much of the offseason was spent with Messi attempting to arrange his exit from the club that he's spent the past two decades at, but the Argentina forward accepted that he would not be leaving and is now in the final year of his contract at Barcelona.
Through four matches, Barca sits ninth in the La Liga table, four points behind leaders Real Sociedad (with two games in hand). The team fell 1-0 to Getafe on the weekend for its first loss of the season.
In a group that also features Messi's eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus, Koeman believes that lowered expectations for Barca, five times the Champions League winners, this season could play into their favour.
"When you're at Barcelona, you always want to be there fighting for trophies, be it in La Liga or Europe," Koeman said. "We aren't the favourites, but we can go far."
Dynamo Kyiv rounds out Group G.