The Dutch manager had the opportunity to work with Messi for a season before the Argentine international left the club for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer earlier this summer.
Koeman has revealed that Messi’s incredible quality on the training pitch was never a surprise for him but his determination and intensity during training sessions was not normal and he was amazed to see the player’s approach and application up close.
The Barcelona manager highlighted an incident where the senior players had lost out to the Academy players during a rondo session and Messi was seriously angry about the defeat for a whole week.
Koeman also went on to add that Messi’s sharpness during training sessions was on a next level compared to his teammates.
“I knew how good he is, but it’s still nice to see it up close every day,” Koeman said (via Independent).
“Everything you would like to teach a football player, in recognizing situations, in taking the ball under pressure, in ball speed, in finishing; with Messi, everything is a 10. Not normal, not normal!
“Of course he had good players around him, but he made the difference. Everyone seems better than they are because of him. This is not a criticism, but an observation.
“When we did a finishing practice during training, there were sometimes players who started to hit easy balls, a bit of fooling around. But with Messi, everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom. Never frills, everything functional. And always wanted to win everything.
“We always play a rondo before training. If the ball goes around 20 times, then the players in the middle must have an extra turn. If that happens three times in a row, the players will form two lines and the two who were in the middle then walk through and get taps on their heads and such.
“I asked Messi if it had happened to him once. ‘Yes, once,’ he said. In all those years. With him, the older players never lost an exercise against the young. It happened once and Messi was seriously angry about that for a week. Really, a tyrant.”
The 34-year-old is widely regarded as the best player in footballing history but he has had a tough time at his new club so far and the PSG fans will be hoping to see him get back to his best soon.
Meanwhile, Barcelona have struggled in Messi’s absence and the La Liga giants are currently eighth in the league table with eight points from four league matches.