Skip to content

Lionel Messi could return for Barcelona by Jan. 5, one week ahead of showdown at Atlético Madrid

Dec 29, 2013, 8:36 PM EDT

FC Barcelona v Levante UD - La Liga Getty Images

With a showdown match against Atlético Madrid looming on Jan. 11, Barcelona need to get Lionel Messi back as soon as possible. Luckily for the defending La Liga champions, the Argentine’s hamstring appears to be cooperating, with the team considering moving up his expected return date in response to the injury’s improvements.

According to reports out of Spain, Barça was originally targeting their trip to second place Atlético for Messi’s return. Now, given the progress the 26-year-old has shown, the Spanish leaders are considering moving Messi’s return from Argentina up to Jan. 5, theoretically giving Messi games against Elche (in league) and Granada (in Copa del Rey) to prepare for Jan. 11’s big match.

The news comes after Barcelona physical trainer Elvio Paolorosso visited Messi in Rosario, Argentina last week. A final determination on Messi’s return won’t be made until the star arrives in Catalonia on Jan. 2, but Paolorosso’s visit gave the club’s staff reason to think the reigning Ballon d’ Or honoree will be able to log some time ahead of the team’s visit to the Vicente Calderón.

Messi had scored eight times in 11 league appearances before being sidelined after Nov. 10th’s match at Real Betis, a 4-1 victory for Barcelona. The team ruled their then-leading scorer out until the new year, allowing Messi to return to Argentina earlier this month to continue his recovery.

Without him, Barcelona has gone 6-2-0 in all competitions, though the team has also been troubled by longterm absences to goalkeeper Víctor Valdés, right back Dani Alves, and left back Jordi Alba, who has since returned. Central defender Carles Puyol has had trouble staying healthy, while midfielder Xavi Hernández has also been slowed by fitness issues.

All the while, Atlético Madrid won’t go away. Dating back to their 1-0 loss at Espanyol on Oct. 19, Diego Simeone’s team has gone 12-0-2, their 46 points matching Barcelona’s total through 17 rounds. In Messi’s absence, Atleti striker Diego Costa is leading the league’s scoring race, having scored 19 times. With Atlético playing Barcelona to two draws in the preseason Supercopa, Gerardo Martino’s squad will be under no false assumptions about the strength of Madrid’s ‘other’ club.

Getting Messi back for their visit to the Calderón was always going to be crucial for Barcelona, but thanks to a quicker-than-expected recovery, Messi may get a chance to find his legs beforethe biggest game in La Liga’s  title race.

Latest Posts
  1. Leicester City lands coup with Inter legend Esteban Cambiasso

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT

    esteban_cambiasso Getty Images

    The Nerazzurri icon moves to the East Midlands after 10 years at the San Siro.

  2. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Portland’s Norberto Paparatto receives one-game suspension from MLS

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    norberto_paparatto AP

    An arm to the back of Chad Marshall’s head earns the Timber’s center back a weekend off.

  3. Kei Kamara returning the MLS? Regardless, his time’s done at Middlesbrough

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Kamara head shot

    Columbus, Sporting, Vancouver connected with a possible return.

  4. Lessons from 2010 say U.S. squad as much about opportunity, circumstances as youth

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    jurgen_klinsmann

    In 2010, a series of young Americans looked prime for breakthroughs. Their experience reminds up: Four years is a long way off.

  5. Premier League Power Rankings: Familiar faces jostle for the top spot – Week 1

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Nacer Chadli AP

    Our first Power Rankings of the 2014-15 season. What do you think?

  6. U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Rubin Rubin

    Rubio Rubin, Joe Gyau, and Emerson Hyndman are among the roster’s most-intriguing prospects for 2018.

  7. VIDEO: PST Extra – Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Jenna, JPW and Prindi break down Di Maria to United, Balotelli to Liverpool and Chelsea’s tough trip to Everton.

  8. Who is Jordan Morris? College player gets US national team call up for friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Source: Pac -12 Source: Pac -12

    A striker from Stanford could become the first collegian in the MLS era to play for the USA. Who is he?

  9. Report: Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid battling to sign Radamel Falcao on loan

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    Four top teams in the hunt for Falcao. Will they cough up the cash for a loan deal?

  10. Plenty of surprises in US national team roster for Czech Republic friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Klinsmann selects Stanford forward, several American youngsters based in Europe for Czech Republic clash.

  11. Analysis: Arsenal, Manchester City handed tough Champions League draw

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C1-BORUSSIA-DORTMUND-ARSENAL Getty Images

    Can Arsenal and Man City navigate tough UCL groups, again?

  12. Cristiano Ronaldo wins UEFA’s ‘best player in Europe’ award

    Aug 28, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT

    Portugal Soccer Champions League Final AP

    Ronaldo named ‘best player in Europe’ for outstanding 2013-14 season.

  13. Full draw: European giants collide as UEFA Champions League groups set

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

    UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Q1 and Q2 Qualifying Round Draw Getty Images

    The eight groups are set as the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League will kick off next month.

  14. Angel Di Maria unveiled by Manchester United, van Gaal doesn’t expect ‘miracles’

    Aug 28, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    Bv-8S8vCcAAWAVe

    Louis van Gaal delighted, yet realistic, as Di Maria speaks for the first time as a United player.

  15. VIDEO: Donovan shines, LA Galaxy hammer DC United 4-1

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    landon_donovan Getty Images

    Galaxy win third-straight, go second in the West as Donovan continues to shine during elongated swansong.

  16. Transfer needs – Manchester United, Newcastle, QPR, Southampton, Stoke

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round Getty Images

    We continue our look at what each PL team needs to do in the final few days of the window.

  17. Preview: Possible “Groups of Death” galore in UEFA Champions League draw

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT

    Champions League logo

    All the details you need to know, as the UCL group stage draw takes place on Thursday.

  18. Report: Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck heading to Tottenham?

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:54 AM EDT

    Welbeck Getty Images

    England international reportedly chased by several PL clubs, as Spurs join the suitors.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals