Former Barcelona and Ajax star Koeman: Verstappen is like Messi

-

Ronald Koeman knows what it takes to become a successful athlete, having been one of the best, played with one the best and coached some of the best. Now he has paid one of the highest compliments possible to Max Verstappen, by likening his compatriot to Lionel Messi.

The three-time Formula 1 world champion and FIFA World Cup winner have both enjoyed incredible amounts of dominance over rivals in their career, as Verstappen has won 33 of the 41 races since the start of 2022 whilst Messi has scored 726 club goals in 898 games in his career.

Both are also hauling in the accolades, as the Verstappen won his third straight F1 drivers’ championship at the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix, whilst Messi has won 42 trophies since his debut in 2004/05.

“I see similarities [between Verstappen] with Lionel Messi,” Koeman told Formule1.nl. “The will to win, at all costs. Being able to be tough, being on top when something is not settled. You can see that with Max, in his behavior, in his look, by the venom in his eyes, his determination.

“For example, when he comes in for new tyres in a race. He doesn’t ask, he reports it. He takes responsibility. Messi has that too, who I experienced for a year and a half at Barcelona and, another similarity, they are pure enthusiasts.”

Koeman compares Verstappen to himself

Koeman was part of a talented late 1980s to 1990s Netherlands team that managed to win the UEFA European Championships and reached the World Cup twice, with him as captain.

He was also a feared goal-scorer despite playing as a defender by to bag 238 goals in 685 games, that’s a rate as good as many strikers manage. His contributions helped his clubs win 18 trophies across his 17-year career.

“Max is always there at the moment, supreme, and that is a special quality. I had that myself as a soccer player,” Koeman said. “The more important, the more exciting and the more difficult it became, the better I felt. I just got a kick out of showing it then. To prove who you are and how good you are.

“Max doesn’t get confused about anything either. He’s focused and confident like at Zandvoort, 300,000 Dutch people come to the track for him. He delivers when he has to, and those are the very best, the Messis, the Ronaldos and the Verstappens of this world.”

Max Verstappen celebrates with his Red Bull team after winning the 2023 Brazilian GP | Rudy Carezzevoli / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Koeman: Keep going for as long as you can

Verstappen is contracted to stay at Red Bull until 2028 after signing an extension in 2021. However, he often speaks about retiring from the sport, partially thanks to an expanding calendar and tampering of the structure.

The 26-year-old also feels as though he will have little joy in winning easily each week compared to what he can find elsewhere in life.

“If I look at myself: I once stopped at Barcelona and then played two more seasons at Feyenoord,” Koeman continued. “Now I say that I should never have left Barcelona then.

“But at that moment I had a different feeling and thought I was ready for something else. In our case, that was returning to the Netherlands. But now we live in Barcelona again, because we don’t like to be anywhere better than there.”

“What I’m saying is that you should always follow your gut. Once Max no longer feels the challenge or has the passion needed to be successful, he has to do something else. But personally, I would say as long as you can still do it, you have to keep going. You can only stop once.”

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Charles Leclerc Monaco GP record: Ferrari star out to banish seven-year curse

0
After growing up in Monaco, Charles Leclerc must know the streets of Monte Carlo like the back of his...
Joey Logano leads the field at the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway | NASCAR

Was the NASCAR All-Star Race’s option tyre a success?

0
The NASCAR All-Star Race is often used as a testing ground for concepts that might be incorporated into points...
McLaren F1 launch bespoke Senna livery for the 2024 Monaco GP | McLaren

McLaren unveil stunning Senna tribute livery for 2024 Monaco GP

0
McLaren have announced a special Ayrton Senna-inspired livery for the 2024 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix, celebrating the legendary...
Lewis Hamilton during 2024 Australian GP | Mercedes / Sulay Kelly

Race to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes down to two candidates

0
As Lewis Hamilton prepares to leave Mercedes for Ferrari ahead of the 2025 Formula 1 season, there has been...
Ollie Bearman with his new helmet ahead of his practice outing in Imola for Haas

Haas boss outlines how Oliver Bearman can secure 2025 F1 seat after Imola audition

0
Oliver Bearman has been hailed for his faultless performance by Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu in practice at the...

Esteban Ocon tempted by Mercedes 2025 switch as Alpine doubts emerge

0
Esteban Ocon has opened the door to replacing Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, as the Alpine driver ponders his future...
Toto Wolff at 2023 United States Grand Prix | Mercedes / Sebastian Kawka

Toto Wolff ‘can’t wait’ to prove Horner wrong after latest Mercedes jibe

0
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has fired back at Christian Horner for suggesting over 200 employees left Mercedes for Red...
Race winner Max Verstappen and runner-up Lando Norris of McLaren celebrate on the podium after the 2024 Emilia Romagna GP | Mark Thompson/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Winners and Losers from 2024 Emilia Romagna GP

0
Lando Norris' miraculous late-race pace brought a previously lacklustre 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to life as the McLaren...
Max Verstappen leads Lando Norris of McLaren at the start of the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Driver Ratings – Emilia Romagna GP 2024

0
Max Verstappen returned to the top of the podium after seeing off a late challenge from Lando Norris to...
Scott McLaughlin at 2024 Indy 500 Pole Day | Penske Entertainment: Joe Skibinski

Scott McLaughlin secures pole for Indy 500, as Team Penske sweep front row

0
Scott McLaughlin clinched the P1 Award in IndyCar's Fast Six qualifying for the 108th Indy 500, leading Team Penske...
- Advertisment -