Balague: Barca training tough
Guillem Balague says Barcelona’s superstars will be forced to suffer tough double training sessions during their week-long camp in Burton.
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New head coach Luis Enrique has brought his squad to St George’s Park as part of his preparations for the new La Liga season with the likes Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets arriving in England to use the FA’s facilities.
World Cup finalists Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, plus the injured Neymar, have been given an extended break and Spanish football expert Balague believes they may be thankful to miss out on the strict pre-season approach of their new boss.
“Luis Enrique is a fanatic of physical training,” he told Sky Sports News.
"Barcelona have come from two years where the training has been more relaxed and less intense, which showed in the way they were playing."
Balague on Barcelona
“But Enrique wants discipline, hard work, and for guys to recover pressure high and be fit.
“They are saying privately that it’s hard to finish the sessions. So far what he has been doing back in Barcelona is difficult training sessions.
“Here [at St George’s Park] you’re going to get one in the morning and one in the afternoon and so on until Saturday.”
Xavi has travelled with the squad, despite being linked with a summer transfer away from Barcelona, while speculation about the future of fellow midfielder Alex Song was rife after he flew home from the camp shortly after arriving in England.
Balague explained that Luis Suarez is not allowed to attend due to the terms of his four-month ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
“He cannot train,” he added.
“They are all waiting for the decision by CAS to see if the four months where he’s not supposed to be in any kind of football or sport’s installation can be changed. In any case, while that happens, he could not travel.
“Alex Song travelled with the side, but had to travel back home for personal reasons, according to Barcelona.
“Apart from that, everyone is here including – and this is a bit of a surprise - Xavi Hernandez, who had tried to get a way to sign for a club in Qatar or the United States.
“That hasn’t happened yet and there are still negotiations with clubs in Qatar, so it could still happen. In the meantime he has come back to join Luis Enrique’s team.”