The Morning Call (Sunday)

Messi returns for Huesca trip

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Lionel Messi is back in Barcelona’s squad for its league game at Huesca on Sunday. Messi (left) watched last round’s 1-1 draw with Eibar from the stands at Camp Nou due to an unspecifie­d problem related to his right ankle. Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said Saturday that Messi is “ready, happy and eager” to play. Messi has not played since a 3-0 win over Valladolid on Dec. 22, when he scored his 644th career goal for Barcelona to overtake Pelé’s all-time scoring milestone for their clubs. However, during a short winter break for Spanish football, Messi spoke publicly about his future. The Argentine said he would avoid taking a decision on whether he will remain at Barcelona or not until the end of the season. He was free to negotiate with other clubs as of Friday because his contract expires in June. Koeman said his team was not being distracted by the possible exit of the club’s all-time greatest player. “(Messi) said that he did not want to make a decision yet, and we have to respect that,” Koeman said. “He is free to manage the issue and decide whenever he wants.”

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