Messi to miss Osasuna trip

Lionel Messi is still not fit to return for Barcelona when they travel to newly-promoted Osasuna on Saturday.

The forward was not played since suffering a calf injury in pre-season and coach Ernesto Valverde revealed on Friday he hoped to have the Argentinian back after the international break, in time to face Valencia on September 14.

“He is following the normal recovery process,” Valverde told a press conference. “With this break we hope he will be available for Valencia.”

Without Messi, Barcelona have won one and lost one of their opening two LaLiga games, bouncing back from their defeat to Athletic Bilbao by thumping Celta Vigo 5-2.

Antoine Griezmann was on target twice in that game and, with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele also out injured, the goal-scoring burden will once again fall on the summer signing.

Osasuna have started the season better than Barca, with four points from two games, and are yet to concede.

Valverde is wary of their home form, saying: “Osasuna have always been a fearsome team at El Sadar. They will want to take advantage of being at home in front of their fans.”

Jagoba Arrasate’s side followed up their opening win at Leganes by holding Eibar to a 0-0 draw.

The hosts will be without winger Enrique Barja and defender Unai Garcia through injury, along with Luis Perea and Inigo Perez, who are still working towards full fitness.

Valverde also offered his support to former Barca player and manager Luis Enrique, whose nine-year-old daughter Xana died of bone cancer this week.

A minute’s silence will be held before all games in Spain’s top two divisions this weekend in her memory.

“I want to send a message to Luis Enrique, in what are difficult times for his family,” said Valverde.

“I want to convey love and send him a huge hug.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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