After refusing to attend Barcelona’s training ground for a COVID-19 test, Lionel Messi is now set to boycott the club’s pre-season training in an effort to force the club to sell him.
It is another escalation in the tense stand-off between player and club. However, Barcelona appear to be backing down from their firm-handed approach to the player, having agreed to crisis talks.
Messi’s father and representative Jorge recently landed in the Spanish city ahead of a meeting
scheduled for Wednesday (local time) with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu over the Argentine superstar’s future.
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Sky Sports News’ Gary Cotterill said: “There’s a softening in the stance of Barcelona it seems. Bartomeu has been saying all week that he’s rejected any opportunity to meet with Messi’s camp and find a way through this crisis but there is now going to be a meeting with Messi’s father, Jorge, who flew into Barcelona on Sunday.
“We think that will be in around 48 hours’ time (Wednesday night AEST) at a neutral venue.
“They’re coming at this meeting from very difficult angles – Barcelona want Messi to sign a new contract and start again. Messi’s team are saying, no, his heart and head are not here, he’s made a decision – he wants out and, it would seem, he wants to go to Manchester City.”
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Under La Liga rules, players must pass coronavirus tests before training.
Messi missed his test, which was scheduled for 10.15am on Sunday (local time). According to reports in Spain and from England’s Sky Sports, the 33-year-old will not turn up for the club’s first training session on Monday (Tuesday morning AEST).
The training holdout could see him face fines and a salary reduction.