Barcelona risk being without club talisman in its La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao, head coach Ernesto Valverde has revealed. The 32-year-old Argentine superstar is racing against time to be fit for Friday's clash after picking up an injury in preseason.
Last week, Messi sustained a strain to his right calf muscle in his first training session with Los Blaugrana after returning from holidays following his involvement at this year's Copa America with Argentina. He was subsequently withdrawn from his side's pre-season trip to the United States in order to recover in time for the impending league season.
Following his mishap, the Barca skipper took to Instagram to air his frustrations.
"I was looking forward to starting and unfortunately I had an accident in the first training session that will leave me out for a little while," he stated.
"I'm grateful for all your messages and displays of affection, I wanted to be with the team and with the people who follow us in the USA.
"It wasn't to be this time, but we'll see each other again soon. A hug to everyone."
While many anticipated Messi's return before the league's curtain-raiser against Athletic Bilbao, Ernesto Valverde has confirmed that it is highly unlikely that his side's stalwart will recover in time.
"I would love it if Messi was on holiday, but he's injured," he said.
"I wish we could have him here and count on him for Friday [against Athletic Bilbao] but it's difficult to see."
Barcelona will have a nine-day break after Friday's clash with its Basque opponents so Lionel Messi could be fit and ready to feature in the second league outing with Real Betis.