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Barcelona's Lionel Messi Subbed off vs. Villarreal with Groin Injury

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2019

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 24: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona  during the La Liga Santander  match between FC Barcelona v Villarreal at the Camp Nou on September 24, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by Rico Brouwer/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Barcelona have been dealt another apparent injury blow, as Lionel Messi was substituted at half time against Villarreal on Tuesday.

Per ESPN FC, Messi looked to have suffered a groin issue in the first period and was later replaced by Ousmane Dembele:

ESPN FC @ESPNFC

In his first start since injuring his calf in preseason, Lionel Messi was subbed off at the half with an apparent groin problem. https://t.co/4vJayyNZ0L

Per Sport, the forward received lengthy treatment on the field:

Diario SPORT @sport

#LaLiga 🏆 | #BarcaVillarreal ⚽ 🚑 Este es el momento... Pero Messi ya vuelve a correr por el césped del Camp Nou 🔵🔴 2 🆚 0 🔸🔸 (32') #EnDirecto ▶️ https://t.co/jHAJCD5zqn https://t.co/ME8GKWjN7H

However, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said after the game "it doesn’t seem to be anything more than discomfort in his adductor and we made the change as a precaution," per Ben Hayward of the Manchester Evening Standard.

Messi, who won the FIFA Men's Best Player award on Monday, will be a major loss for Valverde's side if he does end up sidelined for another spell.

The club legend missed the beginning of the campaign—the match against Villarreal was his first start of the season—and Barca suffered as a result:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Messi is kind of important. Barcelona has one win in their last eight without him. (via @BRfootball) https://t.co/cgvtUKS1Cp

The 32-year-old Argentinian's return in front of goal remains simply staggering:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

Lionel Messi's 2018/19 season: 👀 50 games 🤯 51 goals 😳 22 assists 🏆 La Liga 🏆 Supercopa 1️⃣ Champions League top scorer 1️⃣ Barcelona top scorer Unbelievable. https://t.co/VsEenfaNU6

Not only is there no player in Barca's squad who can adequately replace Messi, there is arguably no player on the planet who could do so.

That being said, Barca do have some other impressive attacking options, and the likes of Dembele, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann will need to step up in Messi's absence.

Ansu Fati, 16, will also potentially be used to cover for Messi after enjoying some breakout performances early in 2019-20.

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