Lionel Messi likely to miss Barcelona vs. Valencia after kidney treatment
Lionel Messi has not been ruled out of Wednesday's Copa del Rey trip to Valencia by Barcelona coach Luis Enrique but the Blaugrana superstar looks likely to be rested after undergoing a procedure to treat kidney stones.
Barcelona are in full control of the tie having hammered a sorry Valencia side 7-0 at the Camp Nou last Wednesday, with Luis Suarez scoring four times and Messi bagging a hat trick.
THE BEST OF ESPN FC
- Bell: Liverpool fans make themselves heard
- Cox: Leicester improving | Why Poch should stay
- Okwonga: Man United's market | City's title hopes
- Laurens: PSG's pre-UCL issues | Hertha's curse
- Highlights (U.S. only): Stuttgart 1-3 BVB
- FC TV: Champions League W2W4 | LVG wrong
- News | Transfer | Toe Poke | Fantasy | FC TV | Podcast | MLS
The Argentina captain's absence from training on Monday and Tuesday for "tests" on kidney problems which surfaced during December's World Club Cup in Japan has been communicated by the club.
Mundo Deportivo reported that Messi successfully underwent a minor kidney operation in Barcelona on Tuesday morning, but Luis Enrique was not keen to go into details when speaking with the media on Tuesday morning.
"I believe there is a statement from the club which explains it," Luis Enrique told a news conference. "From there the information is about a patient and is private. I have no comment to make."
Valencia coach Gary Neville said at his prematch news conference that he would also be shuffling his side, with 18-year-old midfielder Fran Villalba set to feature, as Los Che focus their energies on Saturday's huge La Liga game with also struggling Espanyol.
Luis Enrique said his plan for the game would not change even with the tie all but decided already, and claimed the humiliating scoreline actually posed new challenges for his side.
"We have prepared for tomorrow's game in the same way as if we did not have the first leg result," he said. "Tomorrow we will give the squad list, the same as always. Our objective is still the same, to be superior to the opponent. It is not an easy game. We will have to look for motivation for the players to compete well. I hope that the team shows up and goes for the win from the first minute."
The chance of Barca setting a new club record of 29 games unbeaten would not come into his thinking either, Luis Enrique said.
"That is not an extra motivation for us, nor will I use it as one," he said. "Statistics are very good, if they bring us closer to winning trophies."
Barca B players Sergi Samper, Gerard Gumbau, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Juan Camara and Dani Romera all trained with the squad on Tuesday morning. However, with the team currently struggling as they sit 11th in their third tier division, Luis Enrique said that made it difficult for those players to make the step up.
"To be able to move up from the youths to the first team you must put in good individual performances," he said "If their team is not doing well in the table, it is difficult for them to have this opportunity.
The youth team is playing in the Segunda B and the level of the first team is very high."
"I did not know the Chinese window was still open, but I am not thinking about any of my players leaving," he said. "We do not have so many players."