Messi, Coutinho return to Barcelona training

Barcelona, Spain, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- Lionel Messi returned to train with the rest of his Barcelona teammates Wednesday a week after he confirmed he would stay at the Catalan club in order to avoid a court case with his lifelong team.

Messi’s bid to leave the club over the summer by enacting a clause in his contract that allows him to walk away on a free at the end of each season came to a dramatic end when the Argentine put the issue to bed in an interview with Goal confirming he would stay.

In it, he upheld his criticism of the club’s leadership, which had leveled legal action claiming the clause had expired, and said his decision was based on not wanting to take the issue with the club to court.

His 700-million-euro buyout clause therefore remains in place until next year. The Barcelona board of directors is due to hold elections in March.

Brazilian player Philippe Coutinho also returned to the Sant Joan Despí training ground Wednesday having spent the last year on loan with Bayern Munich and will be hoping to cement a place in the Blaugrana’s first team this season under new manager Ronald Koeman.

He scored two of Bayern’s eight goals against Barcelona to knock his club out of the Champions League quarter-finals in dramatic fashion last month.

Messi’s official letter to Barcelona expressing his desire to leave came shortly after that 8-2 defeat.

Samuel Umtiti’s two-week quarantine period after testing positive for Covid-19 in mid-August expired and he was cleared medically to join in the pre-season preparation sessions.

However, with an ongoing knee injury, the French player was not incorporated straight back into the physical activities directed by Koeman.

Spaniards Sergio Busquets and Ansu Fati and Dutch player Frenkie de Jong returned fresh from international duty.

Barcelona are not due to get their LaLiga campaign up and running until matchday 3 with a fixture against Villareal. EFE-EPA


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