Lionel Messi plays in Barcelona friendly after transfer saga with Griezmann, Coutinho and Dembele scoring in win

LIONEL MESSI today returned to action in a Barcelona shirt for the first time since trying to leave the club earlier this summer.

The 33-year-old shocked the football world last month when he outlined his desire to leave Camp Nou.

But having made a dramatic u-turn on the move, deciding he didn't have the heart to take his beloved club to court in order to force his way out, Messi returned to training on Monday.

And new boss Ronald Koeman elected to pick him from the start as his side overcame Gimnastic de Tarragona 3-1 in the late-summer sunshine.

But it was a trio of his team-mates with points to prove that got on the scoresheet.

Ousmane Dembele put Barca 1-0 up with just six minutes on the clock.

And Antoine Griezmann doubled their advantage from the penalty spot 11 minutes later.

Javi Bonilla got the Spanish minnows back into the game shortly after, with Messi being withdrawn at half-time.

Ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, back from his loan spell at Bayern Munich, then made it 3-1 from 12-yards six minutes into the second half.

Messi has been doing his best to make up for lost time this week, after skipping the start of Barcelona's pre-season.

The Argentine turned up for training an hour-and-a-half early on Monday – and was first to arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday too.

He then trained on the team's day off on Thursday in a bid to catch up.

And the legendary No10 assured fans: "My attitude won't change because I wanted to leave.

"I will give my all."

Barcelona will get their LaLiga campaign underway in a fortnight, having been given extra time to recover following their now-infamous Champions League run.

As well as for Barcelona, Messi will be in action for his country next month too, after an international suspension was overturned by CONMEBOL.


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