Argentina suffered a big blow during their friendly against Honduras on May 27, as star forward Lionel Messi suffered a back injury. Although he missed the Copa America opener with Chile, he is now ready for competitive action.
Continue for updates.
Messi Returns vs. Panama
Saturday, June 11
The Argentinian entered with 29 minutes remaining and scored a hat-trick during his country's 5-0 win, per Barcelona.
Martino Comments on Messi's Recovery
Tuesday, June 7
"He has continued working here, he's kicking the ball better now," said Argentina head coach Gerardo Martino, per Sky Sports. "We expect in four days he'll be in a condition to play [vs. Panama]. So we're thinking we will be in a better position by then."
Team Doctor Comments on Messi Injury
Sunday, May 29
"Messi is better, he has less pain. His recovery is day-to-day, there are various treatments for this type of hit," team doctor Daniel Martinez told La Nacion on Sunday, per Goal.com's Joe Wright. "When you have less discomfort in the region, you can have massages that can help to alleviate the pain."
"There’s inflammation around the back of his ribcage and in the soft tissue," Martinez said on Saturday, per Liam Corless of the Mirror. "The pain is making it difficult to move normally, to turn, to cough."
“He was in intense pain on the field," Martinez added on Saturday. "The most worrying thing was the pain because, as I said, it was intense."
Messi Continues Form as Elite Player Despite Injuries
Messi was his old self in the 2014-15 season, winning his fifth Ballon d'Or trophy and guiding Barcelona to the treble, winning La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League in dominant fashion.
A number of knocks and a knee injury held him back early in the 2015-16 season, per the Blaugrana's official Twitter account, and he also missed time in February after undergoing kidney surgery.
Messi remains one of the most uniquely gifted attackers in Europe, capable of deciding the biggest matches with a single flash of brilliance.