Ernesto Valverde, the Barcelona manager, will not risk an unfit Lionel Messi in Friday’s LaLiga opener against Athletic Bilbao.
Messi injured his calf in training, before his side’s brief pre-season tour of the United States and has not yet returned to full training a day before the game.
Valverde, speaking to the media on Thursday, insisted he will not gamble on his captain’s fitness.
“We never like to risk any players and much less someone like Leo.
“He still hasn’t returned to training with the team and while we are happy with his progress, individual training is very different to playing a match. We are going to wait and see,” Valverde said.
Barca have spent over £180million on signings including Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann, but continue to be linked with a second swoop for Neymar, two years after he left the Catalans for PSG for a world record £200m.
Valverde claimed he is not involved with transfers at the Camp Nou.
“It’s inconvenient and it’s not logical. The normal thing would be that the team you start with is the same one that will compete for the whole season.
“Now we have two weeks until the transfer window shuts and you can’t breathe easily until then. I’m very happy with the squad I have at the moment but I don’t know what will happen next.
“I am far removed from transfers and I’m focusing on the players I have for our first game.
“Neymar belongs to PSG and we’ll see what happens but I can’t say anything more about him,” he added.
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