‘We didn’t want to risk him any more’: Ernesto Valverde eases Barcelona fears as he insists Lionel Messi was taken off at half-time as a precaution
Ernesto Valverde calmed Barcelona fears over Lionel Messi’s fitness saying he was taken off as a precaution at half time in the team’s 2-1 win over Villarreal.
‘When something happens to Messi everyone stops, on pitch and in stands,’ said the Barcelona coach.
‘He has a small problem in the abductor muscle and we didn’t want to risk him any more. In principal that is all it is.’
Lionel Messi is treated for a thigh injury just before he was taken off at half-time on Tuesday
Barcelona’s Messi walks on the pitch after being hurt but Ernesto Valverde calmed fears
The Argentinian was making his first start of the season but only made it to half time after taking a knock on the top of the left thigh from Villarreal’s Javier Ontiveros.
The team missed his presence and no one more so than Luis Suarez who struggled until taken off with 10 minutes left.
It was 16-year-old Ansu Fati who replaced him and before the teenager was roared onto the pitch Suarez received a mixed send-off.
Most supporters inside the Nou Camp applauded the club’s fifth highest goalscorer but there were some whistles too – a reaction never before heard since Suarez signed from Liverpool in 2014.
‘Luis has been out for a month,’ said Valverde. ‘It’s hard for him to come back. We know what he is going to give us. We have to be with him. He has a wonderful scoring record in this club.’
Messi needed treatment on his left thigh after going down early in the first half