Barcelona will be without their talismanic captain for their La Liga opener on Friday, with Lionel Messi left out of the touring squad.
Messi has had a niggling calf injury these past few weeks. This has forced him to miss Barcelona’s entire pre-season campaign.
The Argentine did not train with the rest of the team on Thursday as well and has been subsequently left out of the squad that will travel to Athletic Bilbao.
Lionel Messi to miss out on clash against Bilbao
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde confirmed that the club are not going to risk Messi until he is fully fit to make a return.
“We’re not going to take risks with players and certainly not with him. He’s not trained with the team since they came back and it’s different to train in isolation. We’ll wait a little to see how his recovery goes. It’s going well I understand, but we have to wait and see.”
Despite Messi’s absence, Barcelona have named an extremely formidable squad more than capable of beginning their league campaign with a win.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 15, 2019
Griezmann, De Jong set for Barcelona debut
Antoine Griezmann is expected to make his league debut for the club against Bilbao. Griezmann signed for Barcelona from Atletico Madrid this summer and is expected to make a mark from the get-go.
Fellow new arrivals Frenkie de Jong and Junior Firpo have also been named in the squad, with at least one of them set for a starting berth.
Underfire midfielder Philippe Coutinho is also a part of the touring contingent. Coutinho has been linked with a move away from the club all summer. However, he remains an important part of the Barcelona outfit while he is still at the club and is expected to play a part in the game on Friday.
Arthur Melo has, however, been omitted from the 19-man squad named for their La Liga opener.