With a berth in the Champions League knockout round already wrapped up, FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman made the decision to leave star forward Lionel Messi out of the team’s travel list for its Wednesday night matchup against Ferencvaros in Budapest, Hungary.
Messi, along with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and midfielder Philippe Coutinho, were left in Barcelona in a bid to let them rest up and heal as Barcelona looks to protect some of its top talents and get back on track in La Liga.
The Argentinian superstar has played 94% of his possible La Liga minutes and has also featured as a starter in three of four Barcelona Champions League games this season. At the age of 33, the team simply wants to be sure that he is fit and healthy for Barcelona’s title pushes this year.
Koeman referenced a tight schedule in the COVID-19 altered season as he explained Messi’s absence: “We are already qualified and this way I am able to give opportunities to others. We need to win Saturday’s match in La Liga, so this is the right time for him to rest. After tomorrow there won’t be any other chances to do that.”
Messi is expected to start on Sunday as Barcelona travels to face Cadiz in an important La Liga matchup.