One missed practice was enough to raise concerns about Lionel Messi.
Even though the club said there was no reason to worry about Messi, and that he simply underwent an alternative training programme in the gym, other reports suggested there could be more to the matter.
Catalan channel TV3 reported that Messi has a minor thigh muscle problem that could keep him from being ready to play in Barcelona’s 13 June match at Mallorca, the team’s first game since the league was halted nearly three months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
TV3 said late on Wednesday that Messi underwent tests to determine the true extent of the injury, though Barcelona did not confirm he had been tested
Thursday was a scheduled rest day for the club, with the squad returning on Friday to continue its preparations.
Messi missed nearly two months at the beginning of the season after hurting a calf muscle in the first pre-season training, but is La Liga’s leading scorer with 19 goals, five more than Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema. Messi also has the most assists with 12.
Barca defender Clement Lenglet is set to miss the match in Mallorca because of an accumulation of yellow cards, but striker Luis Suarez, who underwent right knee surgery in January and was expected to miss the season before the pandemic, has been practising normally. He is expected to be back in action in Mallorca. Meanwhile, winger Ousmane Dembele is not likely to return as he continues to recover from a hamstring problem.
Barcelona have a two-point lead over Real Madrid with 11 games remaining. Madrid return on 13 June against Eibar, with the match taking place at Real’s Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, located in the club’s training centre. The Bernabeu is undergoing renovation work for the rest of the season.
La Liga’s first game back will be the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis on 11 June.