It has been revealed this morning that Lionel Messi is unlikely to feature again for Barcelona this campaign, after the Argentine forward has struggled to recover from an injury to his right hamstring.
Messi has been hampered by the injury for almost six weeks now, as he missed crucial games in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and La Liga.
However, with the Spanish title secured and after the humbling European exit to Bayern Munich, Messi can now rest up after another scintillating season.
Barca’s website confirmed that the injury could see him out for “between 2 to 3 weeks” after he limped off at the Vincente Calderon against Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
The Catalan club have four games remaining and are due to end their season on June 1. But for the Blaugrana, it is simply not worth risking the four-time FIFA World Player of the Year. That said, Argentina deeply require his services as they continue to edge cumbersomely towards qualification for the 2014 World Cup. Some key CONMEBOL qualifiers are heading Messi’s way this summer.
So let’s take a quick look back, if we can, at the records and stats the 25-year-old South American compiled during the 2012-13 season.
In 48 games across all competitions, Messi has scored 58 goals. He has created another 64 and has helped Barca win 33 out of the 48 games he has played. Words can’t really describe how monumental that is.
Previously he broke Gerd Müller’s record of 85 goals scored in a calendar year, by scoring 91 goals through the second half of the 2011-12 season and the first half of this season. Surely that feat will never be matched.
On January 7 2013, Messi became the first-ever player to win the Balloon d’Or four times. Winning all four in a row.
We could go on all day. Seriously. But with his season coming to a premature end, we must salute his incredible talent and wonder, can he ever top this?
I’d like to think he can but with a new era being ushered in at Barca and German football flexing its muscles to try and grab hold of the European game, Messi’s main challenge now must be to bring Champions League glory back to the Camp Nou. Three years without winning Europe’s greatest trophy would not sit well with Messi or Barca’s adoring fans.
Rest up Lionel, you deserve it. Better bring your ‘A’ game next season… If not, the same as this season would probably suffice.