BARCELONA: Lionel Messi missed Barcelona’s return to training on Monday after being granted permission by the club to stay in Argentina, and he will also be absent from Tuesday’s La Liga match at home to Eibar.
Barca said on Twitter that Messi, who is in the last year of his contract and is free to negotiate a move to rival clubs for free in 2021, would return to training after the Eibar game, meaning he will be back for their visit to Huesca on Jan. 3.
The Argentine returned to his home city of Rosario via private jet immediately after scoring in his side’s 3-0 win away to Real Valladolid on Dec. 22.
The Catalan club did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Messi’s absence, although Spanish media reports said it was to give the captain more time to rest in what has been a challenging season for their all-time top scorer.
Messi has started 17 of Barca’s 20 games in all competitions this season and although he is their top scorer with 10 goals, it has been his worst start to a campaign in 13 seasons in terms of goals and assists.
Barca’s captain said last week he had dragged the ill feeling from his attempt to leave in August into this season but was feeling happier now and was focused on helping the team, fifth in the league, challenge for trophies.