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Soccer Champions League

Who Will Be Sacrificed When Lionel Messi Returns to Barcelona?

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Presse Sports-USA TODAY Sports

Barcelona’s Argentinian talisman Lionel Messi has returned to the club after recovering from a thigh injury that had kept him out since last October. There is speculation that Messi will not take part in Sunday’s game against Eliche, as the Catalan club will be cautious not to risk their star player.

Instead, it looks likely that Messi will feature in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey match against Getafe. He will get a part-time run out in that game to get him fully fit for their colossal clash against co-leaders Atletico Madrid.

Yet, that begs the question of who will be replaced when little Leo makes his return.

Neymar will certainly remain a starter for the obvious reasons. Pedro, as well, has had a fantastic season so far, leading the team with 10 goals scored, and does not look to be losing any ground.

It is likely that it will be Alexis Sanchez who will make way for Messi. The Chilean international has not necessarily done anything to lose his spot, but to leave out a healthy Leo Messi is unthinkable.

Sanchez has eight goals – the best one coming against Real Madrid – and three assists to his name so far this season, as well as 17 chances created. These are not bad statistics and it is unfortunate for Alexi that he will likely be the sacrificial lamb for Messi’s reintroduction.

No matter who it is that makes way for the four-time Ballon d’Or winner, Barcelona will be better for it. It is the club’s hope that Messi will be completely ready for a 90-minute run-out when they visit Atletico on the Jan. 11.

Emilio Gonzales is a Soccer and College Football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Emilio_G184 and add him to your network on Google.