Lionel Messi has spoken out about his uncharacteristic goal drought, claiming it is down to a lack of fitness.
The Barcelona star—who hasn’t scored in four games—took to his personal Tencent Weibo account to share his thoughts after La Blaugrana’s 1-0 win over local rivals Espanyol, as reported by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN:
Games against Espanyol are always very difficult.
I am still not at 100 percent physically, but I am sure that with the run of games I will pick up rhythm.
Even with a handful of misfiring matches under his belt, Messi has racked up plenty of successful strikes this season.
The Argentinian maestro has eight goals and four assists in 10 La Liga appearances this campaign, per WhoScored. He has also netted four times in two Champions League appearances, with the equaliser against Milan his last goal to date.
As noted in Corrigan’s report, Messi’s 301 minutes without a domestic strike is the 26-year-old’s longest barren run since March 2011. That should highlight his stunning consistency across the last two years.
Indeed, Messi’s usually high standards ensure his lack of recent success is a bigger problem than it would be if any other player went on a similar run. Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino knows this and recently jumped to Messi's defence, as reported previously via ESPN.
"If Messi doesn't score three goals in a game people start to think there's a problem," Martino said. "Injuries happen. To Messi, or anyone."
Both Messi and Martino will be relieved to see the form of Neymar and Alexis Sanchez keep Barcelona one point clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table.
Neymar has shown great maturity since arriving from Santos and has proven an able deputy in Messi’s absence. Meanwhile, Sanchez’s burst of form has seen the Chilean forward rack up seven goals in nine domestic appearances this campaign, per WhoScored.
Will Lionel Messi score against Milan?
As translated by ESPN, Madrid-based AS believes Messi's headline-grabbing lack of form is down to the player's intense commitments during preseason, which saw him travel 90,000 miles fulfilling sponsor duties and club demands.
Messi will once again be under the spotlight when Milan travel to the Camp Nou for the upcoming Champions League tie.
Massimiliano Allegri's side haven't won in four games, per WhoScored, providing Messi with a great opportunity to silence critics in front of his home fans.