Barcelona’s first-team squad are aware that they cannot afford to accidentally injury Lionel Messi in training due to his importance in matches.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner, has won 10 La Liga titles since breaking into the senior side under Frank Rijkaard in late 2003, scoring 651 goals across 758 appearances.
Ronald Koeman has made no secret of his admiration for Messi since arriving at the Nou Camp, and a particular habit in training was mentioned by Jean-Clair Todibo during the reign of Quique Setien.
The France youth international, who is currently on loan at Nice, spoke about how he and his colleagues made sure they didn’t harm their own chances of glory while training.
"We all knew that he couldn't get injured," Todibo told Bild in January 2020, as reported by Marca.
“I learned a lot [from Messi] and also stole a few balls from him [in training]. But you go easy on Messi; nobody wants to hurt him."
In what could come as a huge blow to the Catalan giants, Messi is out of contract in the summer after being told he couldn’t leave last time out.
Koeman said of the situation earlier this month when asked by The Athletic : "I'm not confident about that. I'm hopeful, yes, about this because he's still a great player, and he's still winning matches for us, for the team.
“I’m enjoying being his coach; if you look at his qualities every day in the training sessions, it's incredible. Of course, he came as a young kid to Barcelona.
“And I still don't see Leo Messi in another shirt other than the Barca shirt."
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Despite regular links to Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has said more than once that he wants Messi to remain a Barcelona player until he retires.
He said: ”Messi is a Barcelona player. I said it a thousand times. As a fan, I want Leo to finish there.
“His contract finishes this year [season] and I don't know what will happen in his mind.”
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