08:49 GMT18 September 2020
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    The Argentine superstar, who has played for the Catalan giants since 2004 and who is the club's all-time record goalscorer, shocked millions of fans on 25 August, when he announced that he wants to leave the club. The 33-year-old even made a provocative move when he skipped the team’s coronavirus testing.

    Messi has returned to Barcelona’s training ground for the first time since he sent a transfer request to the club’s officials asking to leave, an AFP correspondent has reported. The athlete will take part in his first sessions under Barcelona's new boss Ronald Koeman, who was appointed followng the club's humiliating defeat in the Champions League. 

    ​Koeman is rumoured to be the straw that broke the GOAT’s back. After he was appointed, the Dutchman, who has himself played for Barcelona and helped the club win four domestic titles, allegedly told Messi that his privileges in the squad were over and that he has to think about the team. After that reported conversation, Messi decided to leave the club.

    However, on 4 September the athlete said he is unable to leave the club because of the $823 million buyout clause in the contract, blaming Barcelona’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu for the predicament.

    "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", Messi told Goal.

    Barcelona’s bosses insisted that the athlete was late when he sent his transfer request, which they argue should have been submitted on 10 June (when the European football season usually ends). However, on that date Spain’s La Liga tournament had not yet finished due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Barcelona played its last game on 14 August. Messi argued that the football season had been prolonged because of the pandemic and thus he submitted his request in due time.

    Despite the fact that Messi said he would stay on at Camp Nou, his long-term future in Barcelona is uncertain. The current contract expires next summer and he will be allowed to negotiate a potential move from the Catalan giants in January of 2021.

    Last week, when he announced that he would stay at Camp Nou, Messi said he didn’t know “what will happen next”.

    "There is a new coach and new ideas. That's good, but then we have to see how the team responds and whether or not it will allow us to compete at the top level. What I can say is that I'm staying and I'm going to give my best for Barcelona”, Messi told Goal.

    The past season was catastrophic for Barcelona, with the club finishing without a single trophy in La Liga and without trophies in other competitions. Many sports pundits and players, including those who once played for Barcelona, blame the team's ongoing crisis on the club's President Bartomeu. The upcoming March 2021 election for a new president of the club, or rather the person who will run it, may persuade Messi to stay on in Barcelona until the end of his career, a scenario the club’s bosses have been speaking and dreaming about for years.

    Tags:
    football, Champions League, La Liga, Barcelona, Lionel Messi
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