In a statement made public today, FIFA confirmed that “the release of players under the age of 23 for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 is mandatory for all clubs.” As a result, Leo Messi will be travelling to China to join Argentina’s Olympic squad.

Messi himself had spoken to the press in Barcelona earlier this morning, stating that he would comply with the decision made by FIFA. As for FC Barcelona, the club is now set to make one last attempt to keep the player (or make him return from Beijing) by appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

FC Barcelona’s second game in the 2008/09 pre-season ended in another wide victory as the men coached by Pep Guardiola beat Dundee United 5-1 yesterday at Tannadice Park.

In the first period the Scottish side went ahead after 24 minutes with a goal scored by Buaben, only to see Thierry Henry equalize two minutes later. After the break, the introduction of Leo Messi and Samuel Eto’o increased the spark in Barça’s attack, and plenty of scoring chances started to come. The Argentinian forward, wearing the captain’s armband, was particularly brilliant and scored three goals; Eto’o got the remaining strike.

This match wrapped up Barcelona’s one-week stay in Saint Andrews. The blaugrana team will play their next game against Fiorentina on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi’s three goals in a friendly pre-season match against Dundee United.

Date: July 27, 2008
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FC Barcelona defeated Hibernian (6-0) in a friendly pre-season game played yesterday at the Murrayfield stadium in Edinburgh. It was the first game for the Catalan side under the new coach Pep Guardiola, and the overall impression left by the players was satisfactory. Lionel Messi, who stayed on the pitch for the first half of the game, had a very good individual performance and scored a fine goal.

In addition to this, the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) released a statement announcing that it will be FIFA who will have the last word on whether or not Leo Messi will play in the upcoming Olympic Games; this final decision is set to be made public next Tuesday.

Lionel Messi’s goal in a pre-season friendly match against Hibernian.

Date: July 25, 2008
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Lionel Messi and the rest of the FC Barcelona roster are currently in Saint Andrews (Scotland), where they are carrying out the first stage of the pre-season work under new coach Pep Guardiola.

There has been much talk over the past few days regarding Leo’s presence in the Argentinian national team for the Olympic Games, to be held in Beijing next month. The player has been called up for the games by AFA (Association of Argentinian Football), but FC Barcelona want Messi to stay with the club in order for him to be able to play in the Champions League’s qualification round. At this point, Argentina’s olympic squad is already in Beijing preparing for the tournament, while Leo is doing the pre-season with Barça, but there has been no conclusive statement from any of the parts on how the conflict is eventually going to be solved.

Lionel Messi arrived in Barcelona from Argentina on Tuesday morning to join his team-mates in the pre-season, which kicked off on Monday. After having played two World Cup qualifying games with his country following the end of the club season, Barça had granted Messi a longer vacation, but the player finally decided to bring his return to the team forward.

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona’s new head coach, commented on Messi’s possible presence with Argentina’s olympic team in Beijing:

We are waiting for an official statement from FIFA. The club is standing up for what we think is fair. If FIFA agrees with us, then Leo will stay. Otherwise he will play in the Olympic Games

Via |

According to information by Spanish sports paper Diario As, FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi have reached an agreement that will improve the conditions of the Argentinian forward’s contract with the Catalan club. The new deal will still run until June 30th 2014, and sets a 150 million euros buy-out clause. As for the economic conditions of the contract, the player will from now on receive an 8 million euros yearly salary plus a maximum of 4.5 million in bonuses, which will depend on the team’s and Leo’s own performance.

In addition, the Argentinian olympic football team’s head coach Sergio Batista spoke about the role he wants Messi to play in his side in Beijing: “I want Leo to move freely along the width of the attacking line. He will not play on the right wing, in the way he does with Barcelona”.

Lionel Messi’s participation in the 2008 Free Kick Masters tournament in Houston.

Date: July 6, 2008
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Lionel Messi has been included in Argentina’s list of players for the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing.

After Sergio Batista -coach of the country’s Under-23 team- made his official squad public, it seems sure that Leo will represent his country in Beijing and miss out on Barça’s Champions League qualification games, which will coincide with the Olympics.

The following is the complete list: Ustari (Getafe), Sergio Romero (AZ), Burdisso (Inter), Fazio (Sevilla), Garay (Racing Santander), Zabaleta (Espanyol), Monzón (Boca), Mascherano (Liverpool), Gago (Real Madrid), Banega (Valencia), Sosa (Bayern Munich), Riquelme (Boca), Buonanotte (River Plate), Messi (Barcelona), Agüero (Atlético Madrid), Di María (Benfica), Lavezzi (Naples) and Lautaro Acosta (Sevilla).

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