File photo: Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on March 10, 2021. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
Lionel Messi will miss Barcelona’s final La Liga game of the season against Eibar on Saturday in order to “enjoy a rest” before the Copa America, the club announced.
The Argentine, who is still in contract negotiations with Barcelona, was given permission to miss training on Friday by coach Ronald Koeman and, with the club now out of the title race, will not play in the away fixture against Eibar.
“The striker can enjoy a rest before next month’s Copa America after a season in which he is one of the players in the squad who has played most,” Barcelona said in a statement.
The 33-year-old has already played 47 matches this season for Barca, scoring 38 goals, but his future at the club remains in doubt as he has been linked with a move to Manchester City where he could join up with former coach Pep Guardiola.
File photo: Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi reacts after Bayern Munich’s second goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final football match between Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon on August 14, 2020. (Photo by Manu Fernandez / POOL / AFP)
Barcelona’s defeat by Celta Vigo on Sunday leaves them third in La Liga, seven points behind leaders Atletico Madrid and only two ahead of fourth-placed Sevilla.
The Copa America, which was postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus, begins in Argentina on June 13 with the final on July 10.
The event was due to be co-hosted with Colombia but civil unrest there, which has resulted in 42 deaths, has led to all games being moved to Argentina.