Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has suggested that Lionel Messi will most likely fail to recover in time for Friday’s clash with Athletic Bilbao.
The Catalan giants begin the defence of their La Liga title in a matter of days, as they face a trip to Bilbao in what could be a tricky first outing.
Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong will be hoping to make their competitive debuts for the reigning champions, but they could be without their superstar teammate it seems.
Messi missed the club’s recent USA tour with a calf injury, and it appears as though it could now force him to sit out the opening game of the season.
“I would love it if Messi was on holiday, but he’s injured,” he said, as quoted by the Daily Star.
“I wish we could have him here and count on him for Friday [against Athletic Bilbao] but it’s difficult to see.”
That doesn’t paint a particularly optimistic picture for the 32-year-old, who bagged a staggering 51 goals and 22 assists in 50 appearances last season.
In turn, the last thing that either he or Barcelona needed was an early fitness setback, as that will undoubtedly now complicate his ongoing preparations for the new campaign.
Valverde will of course hope for a positive update in the next 48 hours which could yet give Messi a chance to feature, but ultimately at this stage of the year, they will surely rather not take any risks and will make do without their talisman and allow him to try and come back for the clash against Real Betis on August 25.