Lionel Messi will be out for up to eight weeks after suffering knee ligament damage in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, the Catalan giants confirmed.
“Tests have confirmed that Leo Messi suffered a torn internal collateral knee ligament. The estimated time out will be seven to eight weeks,” Barcelona said in a statement.
Messi will miss at least eight Barca games, and is a huge doubt for the first El Clasico of the season away to Real Madrid on 21 November. Barça face Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal in La Liga before visiting the Bernabeu. The European champions host Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday and will also have to do without Messi for back-to-back games against BATE Borisov.
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted it is impossible to replace Messi as the European champions face up to living without the four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or/World Player of Year.
“A player like Leo is irreplaceable,” Luis Enrique said on Monday ahead of his side’s return to UEFA Champions League action at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.
“In pre-season none of Leo, Neymar or (Luis) Suarez played, but our idea of how to play didn’t change. It is a challenge for us to be without the best player in the world, but it also provides an incentive for us.”
Barça were held to a 1-1 draw in their first Champions League game of the campaign away at Roma a fortnight ago and Luis Enrique insisted it is imperative they get all three points against group leaders Leverkusen at the Camp Nou.
“I don’t know if Leo’s absence will be a boost for Leverkusen, but for us it is a key game against one of the strongest opponents in the group. They are a very intense team, they defend and press well and physically they are very strong. I am sure they will cause us a lot of problems.”