Lionel Messi has returned to training with Barcelona for the first time since he asked the club for a transfer last month.
The public dispute between the Barça captain and the club briefly shook football to its core. Manchester City, Inter, PSG and a host of other major sides had their tails up, dreaming of recruiting one of the greatest players ever, but it was club president Josep Bartomeu who won a momentous battle of wills.
Speaking in an historic interview on Friday, Messi admitted he has too much respect for Barcelona to take them to court in order to secure an exit, and conceded that he will have to stay if the club aren’t prepared to sanction his exit.
He did not mince his words on Bartomeu, but promised to give his all in the final year of his contract.
He sat out the first week of pre-season to try and strengthen the case for his departure, but as reported by Marca and virtually every major Spanish outlet, his exile ended on Monday, when he showed up for training for the first time. Images show him arriving by car, and he will be available to Ronald Koeman for Saturday’s friendly with Gimnastic.
In that telling interview last week, Messi said: “I wanted to go because I thought about living my last years of football happily. Lately, I have not found happiness within the club.”