Lionel Messi is as motivated as ever to return to Barcelona action with La Liga set to resume next month. The Spanish government has given the competition the green light to return from June 8. Barca will go back to work top of the table with 11 games left to play.
The players are slowly stepping up their preparations after returning to training earlier this month and have surprised the coaching staff by staying in great shape during lockdown, according to Sport’s Toni Frieros. Captain Messi is described as being “as motivated as ever,” while manager Quique Setien has reportedly described their physical shape as being “like bulls.”
The physical tests the squad has completed since coming back have “returned much better results than expected,” and the break from competitive action has refreshed the players mentally and physically, according to Frieros.
Messi Shows Off New Look in Training
Messi has returned to training after lockdown with a new clean-shaven look and longer hair that has caught the attention of fans as the 32-year-old gears up to lead Barcelona’s title challenge.
The Argentinian spoke to Sport about how he had been keeping in shape by working out at home and how he thought the enforced break might help his team. He said: “Maybe this stoppage will end up benefiting us, but let’s see if the competitions we’re in can get started again first. Then we will be able to see the level we are at of how far we can go once we get started again.”
Barcelona does have the lead heading into the title run-in but have not been entirely convincing in 2019-20 and have wobbled. The team were only beaten three times in the league last season on their way to the title but have already lost five times this season.
Messi Still Out on His Own in La Liga
Yet despite the defeats Messi continues to be the team’s inspiration. He missed the start of the season with a calf problem but still tops the scoring charts in Spain with 19 goals and 12 assists from 22 appearances.
It’s already been an eventful season for Messi, particularly away from the pitch. He’s clashed with sporting director Eric Abidal and hit out at the board when announcing the players would be taking 70 percent pay cuts during the coronavirus crisis.
Yet on the pitch he remains the team’s leader and will be aiming to pick up his 11th league title with Barcelona when La Liga does make its long-awaited return.