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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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By ESPN Staff

Ronaldinho out for six weeks

MADRID, April 4 (Reuters) - Barcelona forward Ronaldinho will miss the rest of the season after tearing a muscle in his right leg, the club said in a statement on Friday.

The Brazilian suffered the injury in training on Thursday and scans carried out on Friday confirmed that he would be out of action for around six weeks.

The 28-year-old has been plagued by a succession of injury and fitness problems in the past 12 months with local media reporting that the club want to offload him at the end of the season.

Barca, though, were boosted on Friday by news that Argentina forward Lionel Messi hopes to have recovered from his injury in time for the Champions League semi-finals, if the Primera Liga side get past Schalke 04 in the quarters.

Former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho has been in the starting line-up in just 13 of Barcelona's 30 league matches and came off the bench in another four, scoring a total of eight goals.

Ronaldinho last played for Barcelona in the 2-1 loss at home to Villarreal on March 9, but began to complain of muscle pain in his right leg soon afterwards.

He underwent a scan to clarify the nature of the problem but it revealed no muscle or tendon injury and he was put on a training programme to deal with the complaint.

The player's absence from training heightened speculation that he could be on the way out of the club, but Barcelona president Joan Laporta has denied there is any rift with the player.

Ronaldinho's agent, his brother Robert de Assis, was photographed with AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani in the Italian media this week, prompting speculation that the Serie A side could be trying to recruit the Brazilian.

Messi tore a thigh muscle in his left leg in the 1-0 Champions League win over Celtic at the Nou Camp at the beginning of March, and was ruled out for six weeks.

It is the fourth time in the last three years that he has suffered a similar injury and he was sidelined for five weeks earlier this season with the same problem.

'I am working hard, and am pleased that all seems to be going well,' Messi told a news conference.

'There is no pressure for me to return. There isn't a set date and I will not play until I am 100 percent.'

Barca edged Schalke 1-0 away in their Champions League quarter-final, first leg on Tuesday and have the return at the Nou Camp next week. The semi-finals, first legs are on Apr 22-23.

'I think you can be sure I will be there for that game, although we still have to play the second leg in the quarters and we haven't made it yet,' he added. 'I could be back before then.'

Barcelona are in third place in the Primera Liga, a point behind Villarreal and seven adrift of leaders Real Madrid with eight games left to play. They host UEFA Cup quarter-finalists Getafe on Sunday.