Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has said he is fully fit and that the injury he suffered against Atletico Madrid recently was not related to the left thigh issue that severely hampered him towards the end of last season.
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This raised fears that he had not fully recovered from the injury first suffered when scoring at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-final first leg in early April, but the Argentine told TV channel CN23 -- in comments reported by El Mundo Deportivo -- that the two issues were not connected.
“It was a bang, nothing more,” Messi said. “There was some swelling, but no tear. The club did not hide anything. The injury last season was difficult, but I am fine now.”
The problems focused attention on Messi's recovery programme, with AS pointing out last week that, of his previous 26 games, he had only completed two. It was also pointed out that his summer had involved travelling 90,000 kilometres in 40 days, as he took part in friendlies for club and country, plus a number of events and games organised by his own charitable foundation.
Messi has acknowledged that he had perhaps returned too soon to action last term but said he had rested sufficiently during his summer break.
“I played half-injured, and suffered a relapse, so it was not easy to recover,” he said. “[But] I had time to get well on holidays, and I am good now, looking forward to continuing like this.”
Messi also said he is excited about his partnership with summer signing Neymar.
“He arrived very quickly and has settled in very well in the dressing-room,” he said. “Neymar is a good kid and very humble, and now we need to get to know each other well on the pitch.”
The Argentina captain was also asked about his country’s upcoming World Cup 2014 qualifier in Paraguay on September 11.
"It will be a difficult match,” Messi said. “I hope that things keep going well for us as they have been going, we are on a good path.”
Argentina are currently top of the South American qualifying group, with 26 points from 13 games.