Sunday 22 April 2018

Irish fans hoping to see Lionel Messi in Dublin next weekend have been given a big boost by the star striker

Press Association

Lionel Messi will be part of the Barcelona squad that returns to St George's Park for a training camp next week after the reigning FIFA world player of the year cut short his summer break.

Messi was due to be absent until the start of August following his exertions at the Copa America this summer, where he helped Argentina reach the final before losing on penalties to Chile.

However, the 29-year-old, who announced his international retirement following that loss, has decided to return early and on Saturday was named in Luis Enrique's 25-man travelling squad to England.

Barcelona are due to play Celtic at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday evening, and this latest news will be welcome by Irish football fans who will hope to catch a glimpse of the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in Dublin.

As well as Messi, Barca confirmed the likes of Luis Suarez, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal will be among 13 senior players at the National Football Centre. There will also be 12 members from the club's youth ranks.

The rest of the squad, with Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and new signings Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne among those absent having played at Euro 2016 this summer, will join up their team-mates once their holidays are over.

The Spanish champions, who already used St George's Park in 2014, travel to England on Monday and will spend five days training at the £105million Staffordshire facility before flying to Dublin on Saturday to face Celtic in a friendly.

Press Association

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