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Messi returns to barcelona training ground

Lionel Messi returned to training with Barcelona on Monday, almost two weeks after he told the club he desired to leave.

After reluctantly changing his mind, Messi was back with the team to prepare for the new campaign. The club said he practiced separately from the rest of the squad because he still needs to undergo a second coronavirus test before rejoining his teammates.

Messi stated last week he wasn’t happy with Barcelona but would rather stay than get into a legal battle with the “club of his life.” Messi wanted to leave for free but the Catalan club said the contract clause he invoked had already expired, so he has to stay at least until the end of his contract in June 2021.

Messi told Barcelona he desired to leave on Aug. 25 and had not reported for the squad’s required coronavirus testing a week ago. He also had not showed up when his teammates resumed training last week.

The Spanish league starts this weekend, but Barcelona will not start its campaign until the end of the month with a home game versus Villarreal.

Messi was one of the first to arrive at the team’s training center in Barcelona on Monday. He was expected to personally meet with incoming coach Ronald Koeman for the first time.

Koeman replaced Quique Setién after the team’s embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League on Aug. 14.

The Dutch coach talked to Messi shortly after that loss and was informed by the Argentina star he wasn’t expecting to stay. Club president Josep Bartomeu later said that keeping Messi was a priority, as Koeman’s project revolved on the player.

Messi complained of Bartomeu after announcing he would stay, saying the president didn’t keep his word to let him leave after the season. Messi stated he told Bartomeu he wanted to leave several times during the season.

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