Lionel Messi Must Be Patient Amid Recovery from Thigh Injury

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Lionel Messi Must Be Patient Amid Recovery from Thigh Injury
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Barcelona don't need superstar striker Lionel Messi on the pitch in October if it means he'll be less than 100 percent next spring. 

Messi suffered a thigh injury in Saturday's win over Almeria, and the club has confirmed that he'll be sidelined for two to three weeks while he recovers. But the Argentine should be in no rush to return to the lineup.

Barca is already off to a lightning-fast start in La Liga, having won seven straight out the gate. And with favorable matchups with Real Valladolid and Osasuna upcoming, the Spanish powerhouse won't need Messi in the mix in order to remain on track.

The 26-year-old forward, who missed time with a thigh injury back in April, is better off taking his time to get healthy so he can help Barcelona win titles in 2014.

While Barca has a pair of challenging Champions League showdowns on the horizon against Celtic and AC Milan, the club is off to a strong start after blasting Ajax 4-0 in their Group H opener.

Head coach Gerardo Martino would certainly love to have Messi available to him on Tuesday at Celtic, considering he's scored 11 goals in nine starts this season and the fact that Barca lost in Scotland last season. But Martino's squad presents other dangers outside of Messi in attacking talents like Pedro and Neymar (seven combined goals in 2013-14), and there's no reason to risk the long-term effectiveness of the reigning FIFA Ballon d'Or Award winner for a road match early on in Champions League group play.

Stu Forster/Getty Images
Even Messi couldn't save Barca at Celtic Park in 2012.

Barca's next big matchup in league play will be Oct. 26 against Real Madrid. If Messi's recovery comes along as scheduled, he should be at full strength for that clash and Martino shouldn't hesitate to call on him.

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But that date is four weeks away, which means Barcelona would be wise to encourage their star player to exercise patience moving forward.

If the reigning Spanish champions crumble in Scotland this week, Barca would be justified in bringing Messi back after three weeks for Oct. 22's match against AC Milan in Italy. Otherwise, a win or a draw away at Celtic would buy Messi even more time to rest his leg and reach top form ahead of the club's key home matches against AC Milan and Celtic in the Champions League later this year.

Barca aren't simply out to win matches in 2013-14, but titles. And in order to do that, they will need the world's best player, Lionel Messi, completely healthy and at his best. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter

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