Lionel Messi is back. After missing two months of action due to a thigh injury, the Barcelona star officially returned to regular training with his teammates Friday, and fans could not be more excited.
La Blaugrana have managed to get by without Messi, but they never quite looked OK without their ace. His return will mean a lot for Barcelona and can only be seen as a good thing.
In this article we will take the time to look at the implications of Messi's return and what it means for both player and club.
Since Messi's injury, manager Tata Martino has practiced some rather odd rotational policies. His once-praised method of resting players was instead being questioned.
For example, when Messi was ruled out, Cesc Fabregas was immediately handed the role of center-forward. Not only did Fabregas fail to make due in Messi's absence, he constantly proved that it wasn't the position for him.
However, Martino refused to move Fabregas from the role.
Even after Neymar thrived in the position, Fabregas continued to have his name called. With the return of Messi we will finally see Fabregas back in his rightful place in midfield.
Messi's return will likely affect every player in the squad. Martino will now be able to return to his favorable rotational policy, which will benefit La Blaugrana in the long run and give the club better options each game.
At the same time, the rule will likely see young stars such as Cristian Tello and Sergi Roberto get very few minutes yet again.
With Fabregas now back in midfield, Roberto will have another player to compete with, while the same holds true for Tello and the attacking line.
Lionel Messi is the heart and soul of Barcelona and has carried this team for a while now. All of the pressure is on his shoulders, and when he went down, that burden passed on to others for the time being.
Neymar has had to shoulder a greater weight with Messi sidelined and has both thrived and struggled to deal with the pressure. Andres Iniesta has also had to take on a bigger role and has been in his best form of the season.
Several other stars such as Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Busquets and Pedro have all seen their roles increased with Messi gone, but now things will go back to normal.
This time of playing without Messi has been good for the team. They had to learn how to get by without their star and were unable to rely on him as they have in years past.
The team learned how to shoulder the pressure as a unit, and the return of Messi will lift some of that pressure off other players like Neymar, who has to deal with high expectations as it is.
In the end, Messi will share the burden with his teammates now. He won't be forced to carry it all as he used to, but at the same time, his absence has brought out the very best in some of the Barcelona players.
This is what fans are most looking forward to. No more questions before games, no more worry during the week—Barcelona will finally be back to normal.
The Catalan attack will once again see Messi leading the charge with Neymar as the midfield link up beautifully with the forwards. Barcelona's beautiful passing will get the extra dynamic of Messi that has been missing, and we can all once again just sit back and enjoy La Blaugrana.
Barcelona just is not the same team without Messi.
When the 26-year-old is not on the field, the playing style dips. Passing isn't as sharp, the directions aren't as clear and the overall performance just suffers.
Wth Messi's return, Barcelona can finally get back to just being its normal self.
Lionel Messi has dealt with injury after injury for what seems like two years now. Last year was not the best for the Argentine, but now he finally appears to be healthy again.
Many have questioned why Messi has had to deal with all of these injuries, and blame can be placed in several places. However, Barcelona have to step up and make sure these injuries do not happen again.
This really is Barcelona's last chance to do things right and ensure that its prized possession does not face any more time off as he did last year.
Now that Messi has returned he will be looking to immediately jump back into things. Last year when he would be given the medical green light, he would pick up right where he left off, but that can't happen.
Getting the medical green light does not mean a player is back to who they were before an injury. It means that they have simply been cleared to play in a game.
Barcelona and Tata Martino have to handle this situation very carefully. They cannot allow Messi to jump right back into things, but at the same time, they cannot force him to sit on the bench for too long.
The best move would be to allow Messi to play few minutes at first and slowly increase his playing time throughout January. This way, he would be eased back into things by February and would have a much lower risk of aggravating his thigh.
All in all, this is a very trying time for Barcelona. At this point in the season, La Blaugrana cannot afford to lose Messi again. The club must make sure to be cautious during this time and do what is best for his health.
Messi cannot be allowed to just jump back into action; Martino now has some important decisions to make.
What does Messi's return mean for Barcelona? How should the club handle his return to action? Leave your thoughts and comments below!