Barcelona captain Lionel Messi returns to training
- Barcelona's first team players have all returned to training under social distancing guidelines
- Real Madrid's players are set to train from Monday after all their players tested negative for COVID-19
The Barcelona faithful across the globe were treated to a beautiful sight amidst such difficult circumstances — that of a fully fit Lionel Messi in training. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner took to social media platform Instagram to share a glimpse of him training with Barcelona.
The Barcelona first team returned to training on Friday and every single player in the first team bar the injured Ousmane Dembélé was present at the Joan Gamper training ground.
Barcelona training under social distancing guidelines
All the first-team members of the squad underwent tests for COVID-19 except Dembélé who is set for the test on Monday as he is not part of Barcelona's registered La Liga squad. Martin Braithwaite, their new signing from Leganés is the replacement for the injured Frenchman. He is slated for a lengthy spell on the sidelines and isn't expected to return to action before July or August.
The Barcelona squad were split into three groups on three separate pitches to abide by the social distancing guidelines as well as La Liga's safety protocol.
It was also reported that the players had changed into their training attire at home and not in the dressing rooms of the ground. Similarly, they were also instructed not to use the showers at the campus and head home right after training and trained at different times.
Several Barcelona youngsters such as Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati, Inaki Pena, Monchu Rodriguez, Ronald Araujo, and Alex Collado joined up with the squad in training. The players were tested with basic warmup routines after nearly two months of being locked indoors amidst the lockdown.
Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal expressed his delight at the players returning to training. Speaking to Spanish outlet Marca, he said,
"Finally we are getting back to normal. We hope to carry on and that soon we can get back to enjoying what we like to do most."
2019/20 has, so far, been a mix bag of a season for Barcelona. The sacking of manager Ernesto Valverde and the appointment of Quique Setién at the helm caused a sense of instability at the club. Add to that the high-profile fallout between director of football Eric Abidal and club captain Lionel Messi over Valverde's sacking and all in all, it was an eventful season until the suspension of the league.
Amidst the gloom, though, Barcelona still are at the top of the La Liga table. They are also very much alive in the UEFA Champions League as they were set to host the second leg of their UCL knockout tie with Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli.
Fierce rivals Real Madrid have confirmed that they are set to begin training on Monday, which would be two months after they were all initially forced into quarantine.
A member of the Real Madrid basketball team tested positive in March due to which all the players were sent home to isolate themselves. However, after tests conducted yesterday on all the first-team members, no player has tested positive for COVID-19.
However, Zinedine Zidane is forced to resume training without Serbian international Luka Jović. The striker fractured his right heel according to an announcement from the club.
Other La Liga clubs Sevilla, Leganés, Villarreal and Osasuna have all resumed training as well.