Lionel Messi will be out for up to eight weeks after suffering left knee ligament damage in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas on Saturday, dealing a blow also to Argentina’s World Cup plans.
“Tests have confirmed that Leo Messi suffered a torn internal collateral knee ligament. The estimated time out will be seven to eight weeks,” Barcelona said in a statement.
Messi, 28, looks set to be sidelined for at least eight Barca games, as well as Argentina’s first four 2018 World Cup qualifiers, including a meeting a home to Brazil on November 13.
Moreover, he is now a huge doubt for the first El Clasico of the season away to Real Madrid on November 21.
“Firstly, it is always sad when a player gets injured. It is without doubt the worst thing in football for the players,” said Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.
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“Obviously, when it is Leo Messi even more so for the weight he carries amongst our group.
“It is logical in football that players will get injured and we have to know how to overcome it. I am sure we will perform at a good level.”
Barca face Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal in La Liga before visiting the Bernabeu.
The European champions host Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday and will also have to do without Messi for back-to-back games against BATE Borisov.
“It is a test and extra motivation for this team. We need to accept the challenge and improve our performance because we can do that,” added Enrique.
“I haven’t looked at the calendar. I have only seen that we play on Tuesday against Leverkusen. That is the only thing that interests me.
“In any moment, not just in football, when everything goes well and everything flows it is very easy to perform well. I am sure we will have good results due to the quality of this team.”
Messi clashed with Las Palmas defender Pedro Bigas as he tried to turn the ball home inside the area and suffered a blow to his left knee in the process.
He briefly returned to the field after receiving treatment, but was clearly unable to run freely before he was replaced by Munir El Haddadi.
Video images then emerged of Messi limping heavily as he left hospital after undergoing tests.
It is the first serious injury Messi has suffered since a hamstring injury kept him out for the final two months of 2013.
The blow is just the latest strain on a Barca squad hampered by injuries and a year-long ban from registering new players which will expire in January.
Midfielder Rafinha has already been ruled out for at least six months after suffering cruciate ligament damage earlier this month.
Barca appealed to FIFA to have Turkish midfielder Arda Turan added to their squad due to the seriousness of Rafinha’s injury.
Turan and Aleix Vidal were both signed during the summer transfer window, but can’t be registered to play until January.
However, FIFA believe such a move would be in contravention of their rules.
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