telegraphindia: Lionel Messi is eager to be back playing for Barcelona again this weekend after admitting the suspension of football “has made me think”.
La Liga was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Barca two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table after 27 games.
Spain’s top flight returned on Thursday with the Seville Derby. Barcelona are set to resume their campaign at Real Mallorca on Saturday.
Messi has described football as “a gift” and is happy at the prospect of playing once more after three months of un¬ certainty.
“Being away from the game has made me think,” he said in an Adidas video.
“I feel like any other player. I just want to play. And to play our game is a gift. To be supported by so many, even more so. To be able to inspire others, and be inspired. And maybe the greatest gift of all: to create joy for others. So, now the game has returned, I’m ready for its gift again.”
Messi is the top scorer in La Liga this season, with 19 goals from 22 appearances, five clear of nearest challenger Karim Benzema. The 32-year-old also has the most assists, with 12, four ahead of Real Sociedad forward Portu.
The Argentine star is bidding to win his 11th league title with Barca and his 25th club trophy in total.
Messi’s fitness has become a concern after he missed three training sessions last week with tightness in his thigh.
Coach Quique Setien said Messi will know how to manage his own fitness through La Liga’s rapid end to the season but has no injury problems.
“He is perfectly fine, he has trained with the rest of his teammates and he feels good. I don’t see any problem,” said Setien in a press conference on Friday.
With Liga aiming to finish on July 19, with each team will be playing their remaining 11 matches over just 39 days.
An intense period of fixtures will stretch players like Messi, who will be crucial to Barca’s title bid.
Asked if Messi could play all 11 games, Setien said: “We will have to play it by ear, fortunately Messi and a lot of the players with experience know how to manage themselves. If any risk arises, he will be the first one to say that he needs a rest.”
Setien also said Luis Suarez is available after he recovered from a knee injury but believes he could need time to find full fitness. “He is likely to play but it may not be for the whole game,” said Setien.
“It would be taking a risk that we are probably not going to take. He is in good condition and getting better every day but after five months it’s true that it will be good for him to play and he will need some games to be the best Luis Suarez.”
Defender Nelson Semedo is available despite breaking La Liga protocol and having to train alone on Thursday. Semedo had reportedly attended a gathering of more than 20 people earlier in the week.
Source: Published by telegraphindia