Barcelona captain Lionel Messi reported for training on Monday for the first time since requesting to leave the club last month.
With Messi’s aborted bid to leave Barcelona still raw, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu may be counting his days after a campaign group announced they were racking up signatures in a bid to force a vote of no-confidence in him.
‘Mes que una mocio’ (More than a motion), the group supported by candidates for next year’s presidential election, said they had reached 7,500 club member signatures of the required 16,520 by Sept. 17 to trigger a vote of no confidence in Bartomeu.
If the campaign reaches its target and the vote is held, two-thirds of the club’s 150,000 members would have to vote against Bartomeu to trigger an imminent election.
Bartomeu, who cannot stand again as he has already served two terms, has called elections for March 2021, three months ahead of schedule, in the wake of the team’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in August.
The motion of censure was filed by presidential candidate Jordi Farre on Aug. 26, the day after captain and all-time high scorer Messi sent the club an official notice saying that he wished to leave.
The Argentinian then said on Friday that he would stay for this season as he did not want to fight a legal battle with Barca over the validity of a clause in his last contract which allowed him to depart for free.
Messi had failed to turn up to the club’s tests for COVID-19 eight days ago and been absent from all subsequent sessions ahead of the new campaign after giving the club an official notice that he wished to leave.
But the club’s all-time top scorer finally appeared at the Joan Gamper training ground ahead of an evening session, his first under new coach Ronald Koeman, after taking a test for the novel coronavirus at his home on Sunday.