Fans were left disappointed at the Etihad Stadium on Friday night, as Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi didn’t feature against Italy.
Many would have bought tickets for the international friendly in the hope of seeing the 30-year-old in action, but despite chants from the crowd during the 2-0 win for Jorge Sampaoli’s side, Messi remained sat next to Sergio Aguero on the bench throughout.
The man himself has revealed that he has been struggling with a hamstring problem for a while, and given what’s still at stake this season with Barcelona, coupled with the World Cup this summer, he seemingly took what he felt was the best decision to rest this week.
“I have been suffering from this hamstring injury for some time,” Messi told TyC Sports, as reported by The Express.
“I always want to play, but the road to the World Cup is still long. We decided to wait for this game [against Italy] to rest but I’m optimistic about playing against Spain.”
Messi has been in scintillating form again this season, scoring 35 goals and providing 16 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions.
However, with the Catalan giants still chasing the La Liga title, Copa del Rey and Champions League, as well as Argentina’s hopes of winning the World Cup this summer, it’s understandable as why he didn’t risk aggravating his injury in Manchester.
It won’t be much consolation for the supporters, but surely most will forgive Messi for prioritising trophies and major honours in the coming months as he’ll hope to delight fans worldwide on the biggest stages if Barcelona and Argentina can advance and step closer to success.
What the injury does mean though is that the pressure will be on Valverde to manage it appropriately by resting Messi when possible, and so to ensure that it doesn’t worsen to the point he is forced to miss key games not out of choice to end the campaign.