Ernesto Valverde plays down Lionel Messi absence for Inter trip

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has played down the absence of Lionel Messi from the matchday squad to face Inter this week.

The Blaugrana wrap up their Champions League group stage campaign with a trip to the Milanese giants, who need a victory to secure their progress to the last 16.

Valverde’s side have already sealed their progress as group winners following the 3-1 triumph over Borussia Dortmund last time out.

Messi is one of a number of players not included in the trip, with injured duo Ousmane Dembele and Arthur Melo also not included, with Gerard Pique also rested.

That team news may have given the Nerazzurri a boost ahead of the fixture, but the boss of the Catalan giants insists his side will be aiming to win the game.

“When Leo is not with us, we still have 11 players on the pitch,” Valverde told reporters on Monday, as cited by Diario Sport.

“We all know that he is decisive, but it's not the first time he is not with us and our intention is to maintain our style of play and our competitiveness, that is how we will approach this game.

“The Coach makes the decisions – we are playing a few games in a short space of time and we need to take decisions, this is one.

“Leo has been rested for this game, it is as simply as that. Not every player is here, not every player can play in every game.

“Last year we were fantastic at Inter, in a game that Leo did not play.

“We know how important he is for us, sometimes we are very good without him and sometimes not.”

Tags Ernesto Valverde Lionel Messi