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Apr 3, 2013

Lionel Messi could play vs. PSG

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi will not play this weekend in La Liga versus Mallorca, but club medical services have not ruled him out to return in time for the Champions League return match versus Paris Saint-Germain.

The club announced the news on its website Wednesday, saying "his availability after that [Mallorca] will depend on how the injury progresses."

On his Facebook page Wednesday, Messi posted a photo of himself during his doctor's visit and said: "I will be back soon, luckily it wasn't much. We are very sorry about Masche [Javier Mascherano] and we are putting effort into his quick return."

Messi "felt a twinge in his right hamstring towards the end of the first half last night and failed to reappear after the break, with Cesc [Fabregas] taking his place," the club said in its statement Wednesday.

Barcelona limped away from its Champions League quarterfinal at Parc des Princes with superstar Messi sustaining a right hamstring injury and center half Mascherano rupturing knee ligaments. The match ended 2-2, but Barcelona will be without Mascherano for six to eight weeks.

Messi last injured a hamstring on March 4, 2008, against Glasgow Celtic in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, according to the club website. He missed five weeks.

It was also the first time Messi had left the field at halftime in seven years, since Feb. 5, 2006, in the match versus Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou.

Messi injured his left thigh in November 2009 in a match versus Athletic Bilbao when he pulled a muscle in his left thigh, which meant he missed the following week's Champions League game against Inter Milan -- although the team won 2-0 anyway. He suffered an injury to his adductor muscle before a March 29, 2011, Argentina-Costa Rica friendly, although he didn't miss any games with Barcelona as a result, the club said.

"Of course it will be a big loss if we lose Messi, the best player in the world," assistant coach Jordi Roura said through an interpreter. "But we have Cesc [Fabregas] and other options, so we are confident from that point of view."

Messi was substituted at halftime after scoring his 57th goal of the season with a clinical finish in the 38th minute to put Barcelona up 1-0, drifting into the left side of the area unmarked to plant a low shot into the opposite corner past goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

Messi already had a bloodied left knee by then, and he was seen on the sideline clutching the back of his right leg shortly after.

Fabregas replaced him for the second half. Messi's goal was his 59th in the Champions League, second to all-time leader Raul Gonzalez's 71.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic canceled out Messi's opener in the 79th, before Xavi Hernandez's penalty with one minute left gave Barca the lead again. But PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi salvaged a draw with a deflected strike four minutes into injury time.

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