According to Catalán sports daily El Mundo Deportivo, FC Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has decided that Barça and Argentine International forward Lionel Messi (23) will not play in the International friendly scheduled for August 4th against the K-League All Stars. Should the Barça superstar not play at least 30 minutes, the club will have to pay a “fine” of 200,000 Euros, due to a contractual agreement with the league.
In a press conference, Guardiola suprised the K-League representatives when he announced that Messi “will not play, in principle, because he is not in a condition to compete. It’s not that he’s tired. That was resolved last night. He has only had one training session and is at risk of being injured. He has come back with one or two kilos extra. I would want him to be in form [before competing].” The Barcelona coach added, “One training session after a month of vacation is not sufficient. If there is anyone who likes to play, it’s Leo, but we would run the risk of him being injured.”
Despite the expectation put upon the Argentine player upon his arrival, Pep does not want any risk with Messi, even though Barcelona will have to re-compensate the South Koreans to the amount of 200,000 Euros if he does not play at least 30 minutes.
El Mundo Deportivo has asked its readers their views on whether Guardiola is correct to withhold Messi, since the club will have to pay if he does not play. One can imagine that the South Korean fans will not be happy. One would also hope that a true football fan could understand the coach’s decision, based on his player’s fitness and the risk of injury. Reason, however, does not always seem to go hand-in-hand with football fans.
[UPDATE] Catalán sports daily Sport is now reporting that Messi will play some minutes, after all. The main problem was that the Korean TV station, one of the sponsors of the game, did not want to show the game if Messi did not play. Thus, an agreement between the organizers and FC Barcelona representatives has been reached, and at the request, apparently, of Leo Messi, the superstar will play some minutes, at least, which would satisfy the organizers and the Korean fans. The article does not say if he must still play the 30 minutes to avoid the fine. One would hope not.