MADRID: This Monday sees new signings Sergio Aguero and Emerson Royal begin pre-season training with FC Barcelona following their participation in the Copa America earlier this month, but one man is still missing from the Barcelona squad working with Ronald Koeman -- Lionel Messi.
The Argentinian failed to sign a new contract with the club before his previous deal expired on June 30, and over one month later, he has still to put pen to paper, using recent weeks to spend time in Miami and in the Caribbean with his family as his representatives continued to negotiate.
The past weekend saw Messi and his family enjoying a further break on a boat off the island of Ibiza with former Barcelona players Cesc Fabregas and Luis Suarez, and he didn't seem particularly pre-occupied about his future in the photos published of him jumping into the sea, reports Xinhua.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta continues to insist that negotiations are progressing in a positive manner, telling reporters "everything is going according to plan, everything is progressing adequately," in his last appearance at the Barcelona offices at the Camp Nou stadium.
However, while it doesn't look as if Messi is negotiating with other clubs at the moment -- something that will no doubt calm the nerves of Laporta and Barcelona supporters -- the fact is that the club is finding it difficult to fit Messi's wages into a structure limited by the tight financial fair-play conditions imposed on the club by La Liga.
Carles Alena, Junior Firpo, Juan Miranda and Jean-Claire Todibo have left the club in an effort to lower the wage bill, and Barca are working to try and move on other players such as Samuel Umtiti, Miralem Pjanic and Martin Braithwaite, but with the club due to kick off the new season at home to Real Sociedad on August 15, it doesn't look as if Messi will be in their starting 11 for that match, or perhaps even the following weekend against Athletic Bilbao.
The striker will not return to training until his new deal has been signed and with every day that passes the season is drawing closer, while he is a little bit further away from attaining full match fitness. Koeman must be happy that new arrival Memphis Depay appears to have adapted quickly to life at the club. IANS
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