SOCCER

Messi fails to show up for Barca training

RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT VIDEO SHOWS: BARCELONA ARRIVING AT CLUB'S HEADQUARTERS FOR THE FIRST TRAINING SESSION AHEAD OF THE NEW SEASON, SOUNDBITES FROM THREE SUPPORTERS, EXTERIORS OF LIONEL MESSI'S HOUSE SHOWS: BARCELONA, SPAIN (AUGUST 31, 2020) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL) 1. BARCELONA STRIKER ,LUIS SUAREZ ARRIVING FOR TRAINING SESSION 2. MIDFIELDER ARTURO VIDAL SMILING AND WAVING AT FANS AS HE DRIVES IN FOR TRAINING 3. DEFENDER GERARD PIQUE ARRIVING 4. DEFENDER JORDI ALBA ARRIVING 5. MIDFIELDER RAFINHA ARRIVING FOR TRAINING 6. DEFENDER SERGI ROBERTO ARRIVING FOR TRAINING 7. BARCELONA FANS WAITING FOR PLAYERS TO ARRIVE – WOMAN WEARING MESSI JERSEY WHICH HAS BEEN SIGNED BY THE ARGENTINE 8. FANS WAITING FOR PLAYERS 9. BOY WEARING SUAREZ JERSEY 10. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BRAZILIAN FAN, FABIO ALFREDO SUAREZ, 44, SAYING: "I speak as a fan, I really want Messi to stay, because of what he has given me as a person and as a footballer, Messi lives in my heart, it's a pity that he leaves, I wanted him to leave through the front door of the club." 11. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH FAN, JAN EGELNIR, 57, SAYING: "Before Barca is back to winning cups and everything that takes time, and Messi is almost in the end of his time and he don't want to wait for that. So, I think if he's searching for another club, they go next year for the Champions League, for example." 12. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPANISH FAN, IVAN ANTOLIN BELTRAN, SAYING: "After all that Barca has given to Messi throughout his career, who started here as a child, they helped him with the growth problems he had, they paid him for all the medicines and all the things, I think his way of acting is a bit wrong, but at the same time all the fans would be delighted to see him continue, because he is our idol and our god of football." 13. VARIOUS OF MESSI'S HOUSE 14. CAR PARKED INSIDE MESSI'S HOUSE 15. VARIOUS OF MESSI'S HOUSE 16. TWO CARS PARKED OUTSIDE MESSI'S HOUSE STORY: Unhappy Lionel Messi missed Barcelona's first training session of the new season on Monday (August 31), days after his shock announcement that he wants to leave the only club he has played for professionally. Messi's failure to show up for the session, the first under new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, was widely expected after the 33-year-old Argentine also failed to show up for a pre-season medical on Sunday (August 30). Reuters television footage showed players arriving for the session which began at 1730 local time (1530 GMT) and Messi did not appear. The six-times world player of the year insists he has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave on a free transfer — a claim disputed by Barcelona and La Liga. Messi's lawyers plan to invoke a clause in his four-year contract, signed in 2017, which would have allowed the forward to leave the club for free if he had requested it by June 10. They will argue that date — nominally the end of the season — is now irrelevant after the coronavirus pandemic forced an extension of the La Liga season deep into August. However, La Liga said on Sunday that the only way a club can sign the Argentine forward is if he triggers a release clause of 700 million euros ($836 million). Messi's decision came after Barcelona failed to win any silverware last season, which finished with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. Supporters who waited outside the training ground on Monday were split over Messi's decision. "I really want Messi to stay," Brazilian Fabio Alfredo Suarez told Reuters. "Messi lives in my heart — it's a pity that he leaves, I wanted him to leave through the front door of the club." Spaniard Ivan Antolin Beltran remembered that Barca had helped Messi through the earlier stages of his career. "After all that Barca has given to Messi throughout his career, which started here as a child… they paid him for all his medicines and everything … I think his way of behaving is a bit incorrect," he said. ($1 = 0.8372 euros) (Production: Jordi Rubio, Luis Felipe Castilleja)

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