• Barcelona elected its club captains for the 2020-21 La Liga season
  • Lionel Messi remains Barcelona's captain
  • Messi wore the captain's armband in the pre-season friendly against Gimnastic

Despite expressing his desire to leave Barcelona, Lionel Messi has been re-elected as the club’s captain for the 2020-21 La Liga season.

Barcelona spent almost the entire summer dealing with Messi’s exit saga. The Argentine came close to officially leaving the club he has played for his entire football career, but he eventually decided to stay to avoid legal problems.

Messi will join Barca in the 2020-21 La Liga season, but there is no guarantee that he will stay for long. However, the club’s official Twitter account announced Saturday, Sept. 12, the newly elected captains for the next season, with Messi retaining his position.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is joined by his fellow seasoned Barca veterans, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Piqué and Sergi Roberto, who also served as vice-captains last season.

Ronald Koeman has previously stated that regardless of what has happened this summer, Messi is “still the best” and he hopes to get the best out of him this season.

“Messi is a very important player and he has shown it for many years. I hope he can do it again this season,” Koeman told BarcaTV+.

Lionel Messi still appears set on leaving Barcelona
Lionel Messi still appears set on leaving Barcelona AFP / LLUIS GENE

Since the exit of Barcelona legend Andrés Iniesta, “Leo” has held the throne and this year will be no different. The Argentine will be wearing the captain’s armband once again and made it official in the pre-season friendly against Gimnàstic de Tarragona on Saturday.

The Catalans beat Gimnàstic 3-1 in a one-sided match at Johan Cruyff Stadium. Messi wasn’t able to score a goal in his first Barca game after the exit saga. However, the previously under-fire players, Phillippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann stepped up to give Barcelona a sweet victory, Sky Sports reported.

Dembele made a sensational comeback for the Catalans in his first appearance since November last year after having undergone surgery to treat a ruptured hamstring tendon. The Frenchman sped up to roll the ball into the net in the early going to put Barca ahead in the sixth minute.

Club record signing Coutinho also scored a goal of his own and handed Barca its third goal in the 51st minute. The Brazilian was able to impress in his first outing for the team since returning on loan from Bundesliga champ Bayern Munich.

Griezmann added to Barca's advantage by converting a penalty kick in the 16th minute.