Lionel Messi to miss Barcelona’s La Liga opening match

Leeds: Argentine striker Lionel Messi will miss Barcelona’s opening match of La Liga against Athletic Bilbao, team coach Ernesto Valverde has confirmed.

The striker is currently recovering from a calf injury which he suffered during training last week.

The Barcelona coach said the management does not want to take any risk with the star player.

“We won’t take any risk with any player, much less if he is Lionel Messi. We will see how he arrives at the training session but he hasn’t worked or played with the team,” quoted Valverde as saying.

“Doing an individual recovery is not the same as playing a game, his recovery process is good but we must wait until the training session,” he added.

Lionel Messi trained separately from the team earlier this week.

Barcelona had won La Liga 2018/19 season but the club was knocked out in the Champions League semi-final by Liverpool.

“Everybody has this target, we want the best we can. In the big games, you want to raise your level but you’re always thinking about playing better,” Valverde said.

“We had some excellent games last season, some not so good, but if I look back over my two years we’ve lost four league games, I think, mostly when we’ve already won the title, so I think we’re doing a lot of things right,” he added.

Earlier this month, Lionel Messi was handed a three-month ban from international football by CONMEBOL, South America’s football governing body, for his comments made during the Copa America.

Along with the ban, Lionel Messi was also fined USD 50,000.

As a result, Lionel Messi will be missing three friendly matches against Chile (September 5), Mexico (September 10) and Germany (October 10).