Lionel Messi Says He Is 'Lacking Rhythm' After Injury Return at Barcelona

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2019

GRANADA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 21: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona  during the La Liga Santander  match between Granada v FC Barcelona at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes on September 21, 2019 in Granada Spain (Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has said he feels "fatigued and heavy, lacking rhythm" after returning from a calf injury that saw him miss the opening matches of Barcelona's 2019-20 campaign. 

After the 2019 Copa America, Messi returned to Barca training in early August, but he was almost immediately sidelined.

He subsequently missed the club's pre-season tour to the United States, as well as La Liga games against Athletic Club, Real Betis, Osasuna and Valencia.

The Argentinian returned as a substitute against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League last week, but he could not break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw.

He again came off the bench on Saturday against Granada for his first La Liga appearance of the season, but he could not stop Barca falling to a shock 2-0 defeat:

Speaking after winning The Best FIFA Men's Player 2019 award on Monday, Messi commented on his frustrating start to the new term, per Marca:

"I have been out of action for two months and I notice this. I feel fatigued and heavy, lacking rhythm. They spoke to me about the seriousness of the injury.

"We've started badly and are struggling to create play and chances. It's just the start, but we have to respond now. There's no more time, and we have to improve a lot. We're aware of this. It's a team thing. I have no doubts that we'll improve."

Messi, 32, won FIFA's most prestigious gong after another remarkable season for Barcelona during which he won a 10th La Liga title and scored more than a goal per game across all competitions:

If he can return to fitness and form soon, he should be able to get Barcelona's stuttering 2019-20 campaign up and running.

However, it is possible the Blaugrana's current problems run deeper than just being unable to perform without Messi:

Luis Suarez, who has been consistently brilliant during his time at the Camp Nou, has started the new season in disappointing fashion, and Antoine Griezmann has yet to find his best form at Barca:

There are plenty calling for a change in management at the club despite Ernesto Valverde overseeing back-to-back league title wins:

The next week will be vital in Barca's season as they face Villarreal at home in the league on Tuesday before a trip to Getafe on Saturday.

Anything less than two victories will pile even further pressure on Valverde, who will hope to be able to give Messi his first start of the season against Villarreal.  

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