Barcelona captain Lionel Messi is fit and ready to play ahead of the return of La Liga, according to manager Quique Setien.
Spain’s top-flight will resume on Thursday after a break of almost three months because of coronavirus, with Barcelona’s first game back at Real Mallorca on Saturday.
“We never had any doubts about Messi’s availability for Mallorca. He is fine. He had a minor issue but there have been others that have also had problems after such a long break. He stopped as a precaution. If we risk players unnecessarily, they could end up being out for two weeks. And that would mean they would miss four of the 11 games we have left.”
Setien’s side are on course to successfully defend their La Liga title. They will restart their campaign on top of the table by two points with 11 games left to play.
Messi Fit but Setien Won’t Risk Suarez
While Messi is in good shape for Saturday there are doubts over Luis Suarez’s inclusion. The Uruguay international has been declared fit after five months out following knee surgery, but Setien added he would be cautious with the 32-year-old.
“It’s something that needs to be discussed. I am sure he could, but it would be hasty for him to play for the whole match. He’s doing really well, but we have to avoid putting him at risk.”
Setien must decide whether to start Suarez and take him off at some point, or leave him on the bench and bring him on in the second half against Mallorca.
If Suarez is left out of Setien’s starting XI then it’s likely that either Martin Braithwaite or Ansu Fati will play in attack alongside Messi and Antoine Griezmann.
More Records for Messi?
Messi resumes La Liga action close to adding two more records to his collection. The Argentine is the league’s leading goalscorer in 2019-20 and if he finishes top of the pile once again he will claim his seventh Pichichi Trophy.
The Barcelona captain is currently level with Athletic striker Telmo Zarro on six Pichichi awards, but one more would put him out on his own.
Messi is also close to surpassing Pele’s record of goals for a single club. The legendary Brazilian scored 643 goals for Santos, while Messi is currently on 627 goals and only needs another 16 to beat Pele’s landmark.