Barcelona star Lionel Messi is edging closer to full fitness, having resumed training with Barcelona B side ahead of El Clasico. Luis Enrique's side travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday 21 November but have been without the Argentina international since September, when he suffered a knee injury against Las Palmas.
Spanish daily AS reported last week Messi had returned to first-team training, where he scored in a practice match, but there has still been no official update on the fitness of the four-time Ballon d'Or winner, who did not appear in any photos of the training sessions that were posted on the club's official website.
Barcelona B head coach Gerard Lopez has, however, confirmed that the 28-year-old has been training with the club's second side, who play in Spain's third tier, and has been very impressed with his recovery.
"Leo completed the training sessions. I saw him well, and I am happy that his recovery seems positive. I see him content and lively," Lopez was quoted as saying by AS. "The training was the same that we are used to doing before a game. We didn't change because Messi was there.
"Messi adapted to our training and that included joining in the tactical aspects to prepare for the game. I am delighted that he could take advantage of the two sessions with us and didn't miss two days of work of his recovery.
"I don't know if he will be there on Saturday, but I see him content and I hope he can get back as soon as possible."
Messi has a record haul of 21 goals in El Clasico games. While Neymar and Luis Suarez have excelled in the Argentine's absence, his Barcelona teammate Adriano says the number 10 will be back to inflict more damage on Real.
"He is recovering well, doing everything to get to the game and to have him in the team changes a lot," Adriano told Mundo Deportivo. "There is a difference when he plays or doesn't, but in his absence we have managed to come together and move forward in matches. Every day he has been the Leo were are accustomed to.
"Would I put money on him playing in El Clasico? Hopefully, yes."