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Lionel Messi made a surprise return to Barcelona on Monday night, where he celebrated Xavi’s 42nd birthday alongside former team-mates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

Messi was left out of the Argentina squad to face Chile and Colombia in World Cup qualifying later this week as his country’s place in the tournament later this year is all but secured, so he made the most of his free time by jetting back to the city where he made his name as one of football’s all-time greats.

Messi and co headed to a Japanese restaurant in the city but word soon spread that he was back in town and a number of Barcelona supporters waited outside to greet him when he was leaving.

The 34-year-old stopped to sign shirts of his old club for the fans after departing Xavi’s birthday meal – the Barcelona manager has turned 42.

Messi’s week of rest comes after only just making his return to the Paris Saint-Germain squad after testing positive for Covid-19 on January 2.

He made a substitute appearance for his side in the 4-0 win against Reims on Sunday, replacing fellow Argentina team-mate Angel Di Maria in the 63rd minute.

Xavi, meanwhile, is spearheading Barcelona’s push to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Barca are currently fifth in the LaLiga standings but are only a point off fourth-place Atletico Madrid, who they face this weekend.

READ ALSOLigue 1: Messi returns to PSG squad, Mbappe passed fit

Messi and PSG are the runaway leaders in France’s Ligue 1 they currently hold a commanding 11-point lead over Nice, who they play in the French Cup on Monday January 31

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