Lionel Messi Fitness Concerns Dismissed By Barcelona Boss Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde insists there is no need to worry about Lionel Messi after suggestions the Argentine isn’t fully fit.

Messi returned to the Blaugrana’s starting XI against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday night.

But the Barca skipper couldn’t inspire his side to victory at San Mames, as the contest ended goalless.

That was the Catalans third draw in succession and post-game the focus fell on Barca’s failings in attack.

Messi has been struggling with a thigh injury recently, causing him to only be used as a substitute in the midweek Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid. 

But when it was suggested to Valverde that his No.10 isn’t fully fit, the Barca boss hit back.

“Messi is fine and he has played at 100 per cent,” said Valverde.

“He has had some difficulties, because we had them as a collective, but when he plays it is because is absolutely convinced everything is fine.”

Barcelona began the weekend with a six point lead atop the table.

And with Real Madrid’s victory in the derby with Atletico on Saturday, that number hasn’t changed, with Santiago Solari’s side moving into second at the expense of their local rivals.

“We began the matchday six points clear and we end it in the same position,” he added.

“That means, if my maths is accurate, we are still in a very strong position but of course we know we must keep winning games from now until the end of the season.”

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