Barcelona fans the world over awoke to the happy news Monday morning that Lionel Messi’s knee injury isn’t as bad as feared. While the player is still set to be sidelined for a period of seven to eight weeks, no surgery is required and Messi could return to action sooner than expected, according to Argentina’s team doctor.
Messi suffered an injury to the ligaments in his left knee in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas at the Camp Nou Saturday. After receiving treatment on the pitch, Messi was subbed off in the 10th minute and taken to a nearby clinic for tests.
Despite the hopeful prognosis from Argentina team doctor, Donato Villani, Messi is set to miss a number of important matches, beginning with Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen.
Messi’s absence further stretches a Barcelona lineup that’s already somewhat thin following the sale of players like Pedro and Xavi as well as injuries to Rafinha and Dani Alves.
Last season’s treble-winners have found it somewhat difficult going this season. Last week they lost 4-1 to Celta Vigo and have looked nowhere near the side they were last season.
With Messi out, the impetus would seem to fall to Neymar. The Brazilian will have the opportunity to serve as Barça’s creator-in-chief for a series of La Liga and Champions League outings including clashes with Sevilla, Villarreal and possibly, Real Madrid.
But while many will look to Neymar, or perhaps Luis Suarez, to take the lead in Messi’s absence, Barça boss Luis Enrique stopped short of saying he would ask either player to step up.
“Neymar just need to keep being Neymar, Suarez the same. They will all take a step forward,” said the coach speaking to AS.
Following Tuesday’s Champions League encounter with Leverkusen, Barcelona will be back in action in La Liga on Saturday when they travel to Sevilla.
Watch Barcelona at Sevilla this Saturday at 9:55am ET on BeINSports.