Barcelona allay Messi injury fears

Barcelona on Monday played down fears that striker Lionel Messi injured his hamstring during Sunday’s 6-0 thrashing of Athletic Bilbao in La Liga, after the Argentine was replaced at half-time at the Camp Nou.

“The tests carried out this morning (Monday) allowed us to rule out a hamstring injury. It’s just a bit of minor discomfort,” Barca said in a statement, with Messi withdrawn at the weekend after feeling a hamstring strain.

“How it progresses will determine his availability for the upcoming matches,” the European champions added.

Barca coach Luis Enrique insisted the decision to withdraw Messi, recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner for a record fifth time, was purely a precautionary measure.

“We spoke and it didn’t make any sense to risk it at 2-0 and with all that we have to come,” Enrique told reporters after the match.

Messi opened the scoring on Sunday when he converted a seventh-minute penalty, before he was replaced at the break by Turkish midfielder Arda Turan.

Neymar was also on target in the first half, with Luis Suarez netting a hat-trick following the restart to move out in front as La Liga’s top scorer with 18 goals.

Ivan Rakitic also scored as Barca remained two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with a game in hand.


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