Barcelona have come up with a plan aimed at reducing the current tension between the club and captain Lionel Messi.
The Argentine gave an explosive interview to Goal’s Ruben Uria on Friday where he revealed he was unhappy with Barcelona and is only staying because the club made it impossible for him to leave.
Messi was also critical of president Josep Maria Bartomeu. The 33-year-old said the Barca chief “didn’t keep his word” with regards letting Messi decide his future and added that “there’s has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by.”
According to Oriol Tortajada at L’Esportiu, Barcelona have now taken steps to try and repair their relationship with the 33-year-old.
The club have firstly decided not to fine Messi for missing pre-season training last week. The captain did not arrive for PCR testing on Sunday and subsequently could not join in with the first week of training under new manager Ronald Koeman.
Barcelona did fine midfielder Arthur Melo for skipping training earlier this year but will not do the same for Messi because they feel it would only inflame the situation further. Instead, the club want to build bridges with the 33-year-old.
Tortajada notes how Barcelona’s first “kind gesture” towards Mesi was to post a video of his famous goal against Estudiantes in the Club World Cup in 2009 on social media channels yesterday.
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Messi is expected to return to pre-season training with Barcelona on Monday, and images of the captain back at work will be important for the club. So too his return to first-team action.
The captain could make his first appearance of the 2020-21 campaign in a pre-season friendly against Nastic on September 12 or their following game against Girona four days later,
Messi is also expected to keep hold of the captaincy despite the recent uncertainty over his future. Former Barcelona vice-president Jordi Mestre has said he is “sure” Messi will continue to wear the armband at the Camp Nou.
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Barcelona Won’t Respond to Messi
Barcelona will also refrain from responding to Messi’s interview, according to Sport’s Jordi Gil. President Bartomeu is “aware he comes off poorly” but “won’t respond and instead hopes everyone can now move on.”
The Catalan giants made it clear to Messi they would not sell the forward or enter into any negotiations. Indeed their stance was that the only way he could leave was if a club paid his €700 million release clause.
Barcelona now feel they have “overcome a difficult, tense situation” and their only desire ahead of the new La Liga season is “to see Leo wear the shirt and perform on the pitch once again.”
Koeman to Welcome Messi?
Messi will now start work with new manager Koeman who will be all too aware that the forward is not happy and wanted to leave. The Dutch coach made it clear at his unveiling he wanted to work with Messi but also added: “I only want to work with players who want to be here.”
Yet Koeman should not have to worry about Messi’s motivation. The forward also told fans in his interview that he will continue to “give his best” despite his unhappiness at the club and the way he’s been treated.
Supporters could be able to witness Messi’s final season at Barcelona. He’s free to negotiate with clubs from January, although he will not rush into a decision and will listen to “every proposal” that comes his way, according to Sport’s Jordi Gil.