New-look Messi rediscovers spring in his step to sparkle on La Liga return

Lionel Messi’s performance in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Mallorca hinted at a player rejuvenated after a much-needed rest, writes Graham Ruthen.

For the last few years, Lionel Messi has had a lot of beards to hide his expression behind. Had the beard not been there it might have revealed a lot of expressions. There has been plenty to irk Messi in recent times. Barcelona has indeed become more than a club, with boardroom scandals and power struggles turning the Camp Nou into a political arena.

Now, though, the beard is gone and with it, Messi’s expression has seemingly lifted, as have his performance levels on the basis of his display in the 4-0 win over Real Mallorca on Saturday night. In what was Barca’s first competitive game in over three months, the Argentine was exceptional. There was the enjoyment of his play that had been lacking before the shutdown. There was even a smile or two.

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