The Barcelona captain is likely to be handed a rest at Camp Nou on Saturday: Suárez, Busquets, Rakitic, Piqué and Lenglet are other candidates.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is likely to hand a rest to some of his key players for the visit of Valladolid this weekend with the return of the Champions League adding an extra layer of graft to his squad’s calendar, which includes a double Liga and Copa Clásico against Real Madrid.
Barcelona - and Leo Messi and Luis Suárez in particular – are still haunted by the spectre of last season’s Champions League defeat in Rome, which the Uruguayan attributed to playing the full 90 minutes against Leganés in the cup beforehand, and Valverde will do everything in his power to ensure that his star men go into the knock-out tie against Lyon at full tilt this time around.
But it is Messi who is most likely to sit the game against Valladolid out, the Argentinean barely having had a breather since the turn of the year and nursing a muscle strain picked up in the game against Valencia on 2 February through recent fixtures against Real Madrid in the Copa and Athletic in the league, both of which ended in draws.
Messi, Suárez keen to avoid Roma repeat
Barça’s medical staff are convinced that if Messi is handed the day off on Saturday he will be afforded time to completely recover from both the muscle issue and residual problems in his adductor and hip to be 100 percent for the opening leg against Lyon.
Suárez may start against Valladolid but he will not be expected to complete the full 90 minutes with January signing Kevin-Prince Boateng likely to relieve the number nine as soon as feasible. The return of Ousmane Dembélé gives Valverde another attacking option but the Barça boss may be forced to drop Philippe Coutinho back into midfield to cover for the injured Arthur.
Elsewhere, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Piqué and Clement Lenglet are all candidates to be afforded a rest, start on the bench or hauled off as early as possible with Barça’s gaze fixed firmly on the tricky away fixture at the Stade de Lyon on 19 February.