Barcelona manager Quique Setien has said he will seek to manage the minutes of Lionel Messi up until the end of the campaign.
The Blaugrana have leaned heavily on their star man again this season, with the Argentina international frequently the player to conjure up match-deciding moments for the team.
Ahead of their clash with high-flying Getafe in La Liga on Saturday, Setien was quizzed on the condition of Messi and whether he will need to be rested at times in the remaining weeks of the season, per Dom Farrell of Goal:
"Messi, like a lot of other players, knows what he can do and what he can't do. If he's on the pitch it's because he's able to be. He's OK, there's no problem.
"Like any other players, there will be a time when we have to rest him. I haven't spent so much time here to be able to evaluate this. These players are so used to playing Sunday to Wednesday for many years that in some cases it is not necessary for them to rest, but we will have a look as it goes on."
The campaign has been one of challenges for Barcelona, with former manager Ernesto Valverde sacked in January and replaced by Setien. Last week, the Blaugrana were knocked out of the Copa del Rey in dramatic fashion by Athletic Bilbao, too.
Nevertheless, there's still a chance for the team to end the campaign with silverware, with the La Liga and UEFA Champions League prizes to play for. With Messi, they will always feel capable of winning matches.
The 32-year-old has not been finding the net in recent games, but he's still having a big impact on matches.
In Barcelona's 3-2 win at Real Betis on Sunday, Messi laid on three assists for his team-mates:
The Barcelona Twitter account noted that Messi is leading La Liga in terms of goals and assists:
One factor potentially hindering Setien's ability to rest Messi, aside from how much the team depends on him, is the injury layoffs of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.
It means Messi and Antoine Griezmann will have to shoulder a lot of attacking responsibility in the pursuit of prizes.
Per The Spanish Football Podcast, the Blaugrana are said to be on the hunt for an emergency striker signing:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
Today's headlines in Barcelona: 🗞️ Sport say there's a "72 hour limit for the 9" saying Willian José is ruled out, Lucas Pérez and Ángel are favourites 🗞️ "Summit for the signing" say Mundo Deportivo as Abidal and Setién meet. They agree Ángel, Lucas + Loren are the candidates https://t.co/ofkEgVsyRO
Barcelona's elimination from the Copa del Rey will ease their fixture list at least, meaning Messi and other key players will have more time to recuperate after games in the coming months.
However, the fact remains that when Messi isn't in the Barcelona team, they struggle in their attacking play, as they have long been geared towards getting the best from him. It means Setien will need to be shrewd in deciding when to give his star man a breather before the end of the campaign.