BARCELONA

Messi in Barça squad for Nàstic friendly; Luis Suárez and Vidal omitted

Ronald Koeman has named a squad for his first match as Barcelona coach - a friendly against Gimnàstic, with Lionel Messi included but Luis Suárez absent.

Messi in but Suarez, Vidal out of Barcelona friendly with Gimnastic

Lionel Messi has been included in the Barcelona squad for this evening's friendly with Gimnàstic, but Luis Suárez and Arturo Vidal have been left out.

Captain Messi is in line to appear in Ronald Koeman's first match in charge despite having tried to engineer a move away from Barça in the past month. The Argentina star decided to stay at Camp Nou for the final season of his deal rather than threaten Barça with a lawsuit, having tried unsuccessfully to argue that the clause allowing him to terminate his contract was still valid. Messi felt he was able to make use of that clause because the 2019-20 season was extended by the coronavirus pandemic, but Barça and LaLiga insisted the timeframe in which he would have had to activate it had elapsed.

Luis Suárez and Vidal looking for new clubs

While Messi is now committed to the club for at least another year, the futures of Vidal and Suárez are far less certain. Suárez is believed to have been told by Koeman on the phone that he can leave, although AS report the new Barça coach also made it clear that selling the striker was not his decision. The Uruguay international has been heavily linked with Juventus, who have allowed Gonzalo Higuaín to leave ahead of an expected move to Inter Miami.

Vidal, meanwhile, has been tipped to join Inter Milan to reunite with former Juve boss Antonio Conte.

First friendly of the pre-season

Barcelona face Gimnàstic at Estadi Johan Cruyff at 19:00 hours local time on Saturday in the first of their pre-season fixtures, before playing Girona next Wednesday. Philippe Coutinho is in the squad, having returned from a loan spell with Bayern Munich, while Francisco Trincão and Pedri could make their first appearances for the club.

They are due to begin their LaLiga season against Villarreal in 15 days' time.