BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – The core of Barcelona's Champions League-winning squad has returned to preseason training without star forward Lionel Messi.
Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta were among a group of 16 players that reported for physical exams Monday morning and will do a light training session later.
Messi and Argentina teammates Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Milito, plus Barcelona's Brazilian players Daniel Alves and Adriano, have been given extended leave after playing in the Copa America.
Argentina lost its quarterfinal against Uruguay on Saturday and Brazil went out at the same stage to Paraguay on Sunday.
Injured captain Carles Puyol will also miss the opening sessions, while forward Bojan Krkic was excused ahead of his expected move to Italian club Roma.