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Messi makes first Barcelona appearance since failed attempt to leave

Lionel Messi made his first appearance for Barcelona since his failed attempt to leave the club, playing in their friendly with Gimnastic de Tarragona.

The 33-year-old Argentine submitted a transfer request in August but decided to stay last week because no club would be able to afford his release clause.

Messi started in the 3-1 win over third-tier Nastic after the club confirmed he would remain as captain.

He was replaced along with the other starters at half-time.

Ousmane Dembele opened the scoring with Antoine Griezmann and Phillipe Coutinho netting penalties.

Messi, Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer, believed he had a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for free and did not begin pre-season training.

Barcelona and La Liga insisted that clause was no longer valid – with any club wishing to buy him required to pay a release clause of 700m euros (£624m) – and Messi returned to training after saying he would not take the club to court.

Barca’s season starts on Sunday, 27 September with a home game against Villarreal in La Liga.

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