Barcelona boss Setien plays down Messi fitness doubts

Barcelona boss Quique Setien has allayed doubts on the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of the team’s trip to Real Mallorca this weekend.

The Argentine star did not train with his Blaugrana teammates over several sessions last week and instead had been working on an individual training programme in the club’s gym facilities, as highlighted by Diario Sport.

There had been fears that the Argentine star’s fitness issue may be worse than first feared and could have come at the worst possible time, with the club set to play their final 11 rounds of league action in a condensed timeframe.

“We never doubted that Messi would not be available for the Mallorca game,” Setien explained to Cadena COPE. “There was a minor issue but he is fine, it is normal after you have a long break and not training was just a precaution.

“At this stage you cannot take any risks with players as it could mean they then miss several weeks, and we cannot afford that with just 11 games left.”

Messi is the top scorer in La Liga this campaign with 19 goals to his name (averaging one goal per 99 minutes) and is five strikes clear of Karim Benzema (14) in second place.

Luis Suarez – third on the list – is set to return after a lengthy layoff although Ousmane Dembele is not expected to return until August at the earliest.

Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points at the league’s summit ahead of La Liga returning this week.

Tags Lionel Messi