Lionel Messi Illness: Updates on Barcelona Star's Stomach and Return

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2015

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 25:  A dejected Lionel Messi of Barcelona after defeat during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on October 25, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Lionel Messi's upset stomach created more headlines than the average bout of mild sickness this week, but the Barcelona star has been deemed fit for Thursday's Copa del Rey tie with Elche.

Continue for updates.

Messi Named in Matchday Squad for Elche Clash

Thursday, Jan. 8

Barca's official website provides the latest on Messi's availability:

Luis Enrique has announced his 18 man squad for Thursday night’s game at the Camp Nou against Elche in the last 16 of the Spanish Cup. Ter Stegen, Masip, Montoya, Piqué, Rakitic, Xavi, Pedro, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Mascherano, Bartra, Jordi Alba, S. Roberto, Adriano, Alves, Samper and Munirmake up the squad, which includes two B team players.

Messi Misses Training With Stomach Bug

Monday, Jan. 5

Barcelona were left sweating on the availability of star forward Lionel Messi for their Copa del Rey match against Elche after it was revealed the four-time Ballon d'Or winner is suffering from an illness to his stomach.

AS English reported the news, noticing the Argentina international was absent from training:

AS English @English_AS

Barcelona are holding an open training session but Lionel Messi is not taking part. The Argentine forward is suffering from stomach upset.

Via their official website, the club later confirmed the attacker has an upset stomach.

Messi is having another strong season, linking up well with Neymar and new signing Luis Suarez. Playing in a deeper role than before, his ability to function as a playmaker as well as a scorer is pivotal to Luis Enrique's system.

Marca believes his conversion rate has dropped as a result, calling him less "ruthless" in 2014-15:

It must be pointed out that Messi seems to have adapted his game and is performing a different role this season, as the supplier-in-chief to Neymar. He has also been asked to start pressing in the engine room again, helping to win the ball back and stop opponents from building play.

Though he is converting fewer chances, Messi's record this season is still superb, with nine goals in total - seven in the league and two in the Champions League. Whether or not he regains his old ruthlessness, however, is another story.

Ruthless or not, he remains one of the world's best players, scoring 28 goals or more in all of his last five La Liga seasons, via WhoScored.com. There are few sights in football scarier than watching Messi run at you with the ball at his feet, drawing defenders out of position and setting up teammates or scoring himself.

Replacing Messi's impact and production is next to impossible, but the Blaugrana do have the attacking talent to make do without the 27-year-old for the time being. The likes of Pedro, Munir El Haddadi and Rafinha have all shown the ability to excel in Enrique's squad, and the duo of Suarez and Neymar can carry the scoring load.