Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has been ruled out of the club’s quick visit to the United States for a pair of preseason matches against Napoli in Miami and Michigan.
The club confirmed a grade one calf strain for the Argentinian, suffered in his very first training session back from extended leave. Messi was given extra time to rejoin the squad as did many other international stars that participated in summer tournaments.
The news comes just days after Messi was suspended for three months by CONMEBOL for disparaging comments he made about the federation in the wake of Argentina’s elimination from the Copa America this summer. That will see him also miss games in the United States, with Argentina set for friendlies against Chile and Mexico in Los Angeles and San Antonio.
Messi remained quite healthy last season making 50 appearances for the club, but he has had muscle problems in the past, most notably suffering a string of tears in 2012 and 2013 that has seen Barcelona take a cautious approach with its superstar ever since.
Thee miss will be a big loss for U.S. fans hoping to attend the matches and see Messi play, but also for the “Barca Fest” to be held in Miami on Tuesday, with several unconfirmed first-team players set to attend alongside musical performers and other fan events.
Barcelona begins its regular season against Athletic Bilbao next weekend.