Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has revealed Lionel Messi will not be risked during the club's La Liga opener against Athletic Club on Friday night.
The Argentine suffered a calf injury in his first training session back from his extended holidays following the summer's Copa America, and missed out on the pre-season tour of the USA.
It is understood Messi engaged in a solo training session on Thursday, but he has not yet returned to first-team training, and as such he will not be risked against Athletic Club at San Mames Stadium on Friday night.
Valverde: “Starting at San Mamés is complicated. We know the potential of Athletic Club. They've maintained the dynamics of last year and we will have to be focused” pic.twitter.com/mhYLkLsesx— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 15, 2019
Speaking to the press, as quoted by Reuters
The tactician continued: “He still hasn’t returned to training with the team and while we are happy with his progress, individual training is very different to playing a match. We are going to wait and see.”
Valverde was then asked about the ongoing transfer saga involving Neymar, but the Spaniard refused to get into it, instead using the question as an opportunity to bemoan the fact that the window is still open at all.
“It’s inconvenient and it’s not logical. The normal thing would be that the team you start with is the same one that will compete for the whole season,” he quipped.
“Now we have two weeks until the transfer window shuts and you can’t breathe easily until then. I’m very happy with the squad I have at the moment but I don’t know what will happen next."
He added: “I am far removed from transfers and I’m focussing on the players I have for our first game. Neymar belongs to PSG and we’ll see what happens but I can’t say anything more about him.”