Lionel Messi set to miss La Liga kick off

FC Barcelona will start their La Liga title defence without talisman Lionel Messi due to injury.

Manager Ernesto Valverde confirmed it is very unliely that the club skipper will feature in their opening game at Athletic BIlbao on August 16.

"I would love it if Messi was still on holiday, but he is injured.

"I would like to say he will be available to play against Athletic, but that is difficult to see."

Messi was one of a group of players granted an additional break this summer, due to their participation in the Copa America, however the Argentina international has been carrying a minor injury and has not featured in pre-season.

Valverde has an other wise fully fit squad for the start of the season, with Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann (with his first for the club) all getting on the score sheet in their final game of pre-season – with a 4-0 win over Napoli.

Tags Ernesto Valverde FC Barcelona Lionel Messi