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Scotland again on Barcelona's radar for pre-season training

Barcelona are considering a return to Scotland as they finalise their pre-season programme under their new head coach, Luis Enrique.

Lionel Messi playing against Dundee United in 2008
Lionel Messi playing against Dundee United in 2008

The Catalan club staged a training camp in St Andrews in 2007 and 2008, playing friendly matches against Dundee United, Hibs and Hearts, with the second of those visits serving as the start of the Pep Guardiola revolution.

They are looking for somewhere to base themselves between July 28 and August 1 with Scotland, and St Andrews in particular, holding special significance for them.

Guardiola, who went on to lead Barca to three Spanish titles and two Champions League triumphs, had just taken over from Frank Rijkaard as head coach in the summer of 2008 and staged his first proper meeting with the first-team squad in a conference room inside the Old Course Hotel.

The current Bayern Munich coach also used that stay in Fife to make progress on bubbling disagreements between the club and Lionel Messi and develop a relationship that would see the Argentina captain blossom into perhaps the best player to grace the Camp Nou.

Luis Enrique took over from Guardiola as coach of the Barcelona B squad at that time and is now putting the final touches to the club's pre-season plans with his sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, after leaving Celta Vigo to succeed Gerardo Martino as head coach. St Andrews is believed to be the favoured venue for a training camp, but other options in the United Kingdom and elsewhere are being looked at.

Barca have a friendly match arranged in the South of France with Nice on August 2, but may also seek a game against Scottish opposition should they decide to come back to these shores. They are looking to arrange five friendly matches before the start of the new season in Spain and have filled only three dates so far.

Zubizarreta has confirmed the likes of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Pedro Rodriguez and Xavi - should he remain at the club - will return to training on July 24 after an extended break because of their involvement in the World Cup. Alexis Sanchez has been ordered back to the club for July 28. Lionel Messi, Neymar, Javier Mascherano and Dani Alves would not take part in any potential trip to Scotland as a result of their World Cup involvement.

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