IN NEWS TO WARM the hearts of all Barcelona fans, the club’s talisman Lionel Messi has returned to training for the first time since his widely-publicised transfer saga.
Messi asked to leave the club after handing in a transfer request last month before making a U-turn on his decision, citing he intends to see out his current contract at the Catalans, which expires at the end of the 2020/21 season. A refined work ethic and champion mentality has since ushered Messi back to training, where he has been put through his paces in preparation for the upcoming season.
According to reports, Messi underwent a series of training drills at Barcelona’s Joan Gamper training complex on Monday. The Argentine maestro will, however, have to train individually for a few days due to the strict Covid-19 protocols that are in place after he did not undergo last week’s round of testing.
Speaking out for the first time since the saga began with subsequent rumours of an impending reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, Messi said he was bent on leaving Barca. “I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him that all year,” the six-time Ballon d’Or winner told football website Goal.com.
“I believed it was time to step aside. I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over. I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.”
Adding that he endured a difficult year professionally, the La Liga and Barcelona all-time top scorer said: “It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new ambitions.
“It did not come because of the Champions League result against Bayern, no – I had been thinking about the decision for a long time. I told the president and, well, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end, he did not keep his word.”