Messi
This handout pictured made available by FC Barcelona shows Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi attending a training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi on May 8, 2020 as Spain prepares to ease its tough lockdown measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. – The Spanish government announced a deconfinement plan for professional footballers which initially allowed them to train separate from each other, with a maximum of six players on a field. (Photo by Miguel RUIZ / various sources / AFP)

Lionel Messi’s enthusiasm is contagious as LaLiga leaders Barcelona prepare to return following the coronavirus pandemic, according to team-mate Jordi Alba.

Suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, LaLiga will get back underway with a derby clash between Sevilla and Real Betis on June 11.

Barca, who were two points clear of bitter rivals Real Madrid through 27 rounds at the time of postponement, will return with a trip to Real Mallorca on June 13.

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Captain and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi has provided plenty of motivation ahead of the league’s resumption, with left-back Alba telling TVE: “He’s a vital player of us and we should enjoy having him all the time.

“Seeing Leo with the enthusiasm he’s come back with is contagious for the rest of the group.”

Messi had topped LaLiga’s goalscoring charts with 19, ahead of Madrid forward Karim Benzema (14).

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“I see the team as having a lot of enthusiasm,” Spain international Alba added.

“Mentally and physically we players have come back really well I would say, even better than we were before.”

Meanwhile, defending champions Barca continue to be linked with former star Neymar – who left Camp Nou for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222million transfer in 2017.

On a possible return, Alba said: “He’s clearly a unique player and he gave us a lot. He chose and looked for other goals.”

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