As FC Barcelona continued to roll along and win again in league play on Sunday 4-1 over Real Betis, the win was not without some bad news. 20 minutes into the game Lionel Messi had to be substituted off for what looked like another thigh injury. The extent of the injury will not be known until tests are taken on Monday, but this latest injury that Messi should not be rushed back to action.
If it is a thigh injury which Messi sustained, then it would be the third time within the span of the last six to seven months that Messi has had to abandon a game early because of a thigh injury. It is clear that he has not been his “normal” self for most of this season as Messi has not appeared to be fully fit since Barcelona eliminated Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the quarterfinals of last season’s edition of the Champions League. It is no coincidence that because he was rushed back to play in that tie Messi has not fully recovered and is paying the price for it now.
Now that Messi will be missing some time with his latest injury, it is clear that for his benefit and the benefit of Barcelona as a team they should shut him down for the next eight weeks. Yes, he should not see the field of play until late December at the earliest and maybe not until the calender turns January 1, 2014. It is clear that Messi needs to be given a chance to fully recover and heal because he has not played as a fully fit player so far in the 2013-14 season.
Thigh muscle tear injuries are not a normal thing for Messi. Early in his professional career he suffered four such injuries between 2005 to 2008. Between 2008 and 2012 Messi suffered no such injury, and as was pointed out by Spanish sports daily AS on their twitter account this was due to the work of physical trainer Lorenzo Buenaventura. It is no coincidence that since Buenaventura’s departure in the summer of 2012 Messi has suffered a recurrence of thigh muscle tears given his slight physical frame and makeup. Whatever it was Buenaventura was able to do, Barcelona need to find someone who can do what he did to keep Messi fit and allow him to be the unstoppable force he has been.
It is not like Barcelona could not survive without having the services of Messi because the truth is they can. Barcelona have players like Neymar and Alexis Sanchez upfront who are more than capable of leading the forward line as they have shown so far this season. Add in players like Pedro Rodriguez and Cristian Tello and it is clear that Barcelona have depth. Barcelona’s play is no longer Messi dependent, therefore in the best interest of both player and team, shutting him down for a significant amount of time would be the best decision for all involved in order to ensure a fully fit Messi, especially if Barcelona aspire to achieve what they want at the end of the season.