Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has revealed that club captain Lionel Messi missed their 1-1 Champions League draw with Inter Milan on Tuesday night because he was not 100 per-cent ready.
The Argentina international has suffered an arm fracture last month and has since missed five successive games.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner was expected to be sidelined for three weeks but the forward was back in training last week.
Messi travelled with Valverde’s squad to Italy but has watched from the stand his team-mates securing qualification to the knockout stage of the European competition.
When asked why the attacker was left out, Valverde replied that he simply didn’t want to bring Messi back into the fold before he completely gets recovered.
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“It was a decision shared by the team. We couldn’t risk Messi. We wanted him to train with the team but training isn’t the same as playing,” Valverde said of the Argentine talisman.
“We were careful in training, but we knew that today’s match would be like how it was with the intensity that there was.”
“You do not know what can happen and we didn’t want to take risks. We talked to him about it and he understood.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 31, 2018
Valverde added: “We’ll have to secure first place in the next two games.”
“That was our first objective, but we go home happy. Malcom had great success and we’re very happy for him, of course.”
“There was a moment in the first half when it seemed like the game could become end-to-end and possibly suffer.”
“We have to read everything very well. We’re a team who play close together and find space.”
“Problems can always flare up, but we played well and it was a game that had everything.”
“The objective is always to pick up three points. We always want the ball and have control of the game.”
Barcelona will be back in the La Liga action on Sunday evening as they take on Real Betis at Camp Nou and Messi is expected to make his return.