AAP Soccer

Messi returns for Barca against Real Betis

By AAP Newswire

Lionel Messi is back in the Barcelona squad for the Spanish La Liga game against Real Betis.

But there is no Ousmane Dembele after reports of disciplinary trouble involving the Frenchman.

Messi has missed almost three weeks of action after he suffered a borken arm but was back in training this week and was named in Ernesto Valverde's 19-man squad for Sunday's home match.

Dembele was notable by his absence after reports he failed to show for training on Thursday, having not notified the club he was suffering with gastroenteritis.

"It is not a punishment," Valverde said of the 21-year-old's absence.

"Everyone can interpret it as they wish."

Dembele's latest indiscretion has led to further speculation over the long-term future of the 105 million euro ($A165 million) signing from Borussia Dortmund but Valverde said he remained keen to help him realise his potential.

"The talent that Dembele has is difficult to find and we have to help him take advantage of it," he said.

"We want the best from every player in our team. Dembele has incredible talent and we want to help him show it some day."

Messi's return will come as a huge boost for league leaders Barca with the Argentine not alone in resuming training.

Defender Samuel Umtiti and goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen also return from injury layoffs with the French defender back for the first time since September because of a knee problem.

"Everyone who is selected is in good shape," Valverde said.

"The return of Umtiti and Messi isn't a risk.

"It is true that we are looking after Marc but he's available for the game against Betis.

"We will see tomorrow if Messi is ready to play for 90 minutes or not, but he's lost the fear from his fall already."

Philippe Coutinho will not feature due to a hamstring strain.

Betis are 14th, without a win in their past four in the league, though coach Quique Setien believes he has seen the right things in recent draws against Celta Vigo and AC Milan.

"We have taken a step forward and the players have got a bit of their confidence back," he said.

"But we still need to do better in some of the situations we are creating."