Lionel Messi absent as Barcelona train for final game of La Liga season - in pictures

Captain granted early holiday as the Catalans aim to end campaign with victory at relegated Eibar

Barcelona will aim to conclude what has been a disappointing La Liga season on a positive note when they take on Eibar on Saturday evening, but the Catalans will do so without their talismanic captain.

Lionel Messi has been granted early holiday to prepare for the Copa America and Barcelona confirmed that the Argentine forward will miss the final game of their La Liga campaign.

It remains to be seen whether Messi has played his final game for Barca, with his contract set to expire at the end of next month and new terms yet to be finalised.

Messi requested to leave Barcelona last summer, believing a clause in his contract would allow him to leave on a free transfer, before opting to stay as the club argued the clause was no longer valid.

Messi's future is one of many uncertainties that surround Barca heading into the off-season. The job status of manager Ronaldo Koeman and the club's dire financial situation - Barcelona recently secured a new €500 million ($609m) loan to move their overall debt up to €1.173 billion - are other major concerns.

However, the immediate focus is on Saturday and the trip to relegated Eibar as Barca aim to secure third place in La Liga and avoid a Champions League qualifier next season.

Barca lead fourth-placed Sevilla by two points and hold a far superior goal difference, so a draw at the bottom side will guarantee the Catalans third.

It will conclude a La Liga campaign that has fallen short of expectations and while Barcelona did win the Copa del Rey, they suffered a Round of 16 exit to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Ahead of their final game of the season, Koeman led his players on Friday for what could be his last training session as Barcelona manager. To see the best photos from the training session, browse through the gallery above.

Published: May 22, 2021 03:55 PM


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