Barcelona to let Messi stay

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The Independent Online

Barcelona are set to allow Lionel Messi to remain in Beijing for the Olympic Games, according to reports in the Spanish press.

Messi was selected to represent Argentina at the Games, but after the 21-year-old joined up with the squad in China the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that clubs could not be forced to release players because the Olympics do not appear on the official FIFA calendar.

Barcelona are yet to officially announce a decision on Messi's participation in the games, having been unable to speak to the player directly due to the time difference between China and the United States, where the club is currently on pre-season tour.

An announcement is expected today, and numerous reports in the Spanish press are predicting the Primera Liga giants will follow the lead of German duo Werder Bremen and Schalke who have allowed their players Diego and Rafinha to remain with the Brazil squad.

Messi himself has previously stressed that, while he would return if ordered to do so, his desire is to play in the tournament.

According to Barcelona-based newspaper Sport, Barca will allow Messi to stay in China but will demand compensation from the Argentina Football Association (AFA) for the loss of the player.

Werder Bremen and Schalke both demanded that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) provide insurance policies for their players.

Whatever the decision, Barcelona will have to make an announcement soon, with Argentina due to kick-off their tournament against Ivory Coast at 12.45 (BST).