Lionel Messi is a doubt for Barcelona’s La Liga game at Celta Vigo on Sunday, as confusion continues around his current state of fitness.
Argentina national captain Messi was again in the stands for Tuesday’s 2-1 friendly win over Ecuador in New Jersey, having also sat out last Saturday’s 2-0 friendly victory over El Salvador in Washington DC.
The issue is a swollen toe in his right foot which means that even putting on a boot is painful.
There was no apparent sign of the injury as Messi completed the 90 minutes in Barca’s 2-1 Clasico win over Real Madrid before the international break, but Spanish media reports now say he suffered the problem in March 18’s Champions League round-of-16 second leg at home to Manchester City, and was playing through pain against Madrid four days later.
Speaking at his postmatch news conference after the Ecuador win, Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said that it had not been a case of resting the superstar for precautionary reasons — Messi had actually not been fit to play the game.
“We waited until the last minute, but unfortunately it was not possible,” Martino said. “I understand the expectation and desire to see him. But really he was not fit to play, it was difficult to put on his boots, there was no way of making him play. It was not even about taking a risk or not, he was not fit to play.”
Messi is due back in Catalonia on Wednesday, when further tests are planned with his club. These will likely determine whether he will be able to feature for the Liga leaders against Celta at Balaidos on Sunday evening.
Any fitness issue is a big concern at the moment for Barca, who are facing eight games in 25 days during April, including two Champions League quarterfinals against Paris Saint-Germain.
AS reports that the Argentine FA is happy that the national captain remained with in the US this week, despite being unable to play, as he could then play a role in the squad’s public and sponsorship events.