Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has suggested that the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez could be rested when Girona visit the Nou Camp on Saturday (24 February) with centre-back Gerard Pique also facing a late fitness test to assess his availability.

Valverde's side is heading towards a decisive week in the La Liga title race with the Catalan derby against Girona coming just before a midweek trip to Las Palmas (1 March) and the clash with second-placed Atletico Madrid on Sunday 4 March.

The Barcelona boss admitted that he plans to rotate his squad in those games having named the same starting-line up in the last two games against Eibar and Chelsea.

But pressed in the press conference whether Messi and Suarez could be among those rested, Valverde said: "It is a possibility that I will not reveal. But it is true that they have been playing a lot of minutes (in recent games) because they are very important players."

Pique missed the training session on Thursday after earlier this week Valverde admitted that the Barcelona star is still struggling with a knee injury sustained earlier this month during a derby against Espanyol on 4 February.

However, the boss refused to rule him out completely while pointing out that the game against Girona is as important as the upcoming clash with Atletico.

"We will assess Pique in the training session. Yesterday [on Thursday] he didn't train as a precaution. We are in a week in which we will be playing for nine points. It is an important week. There are 14 [La Liga] games left and three we will be played this week. Those 9 points are going to say a lot," the Barcelona boss added.

"We have to go step by step and the first step is tomorrow [against Girona]. We have played a number of games in a row and it is possible that there will be some changes [in the starting line-up] but the changes will be done thinking to secure the victory.

"We are not looking at the Atletico Madrid game. We want to arrive to that game with the same [seven point] gap we have right now, at least."

Valverde's rotation plans may give Ousmane Dembele a chance to play against Girona with the France starlet having been an unused substitute in the last two games against Eibar and Chelsea.

Dembele has struggled with different injuries since the beginning of the campaign and has only registered one cameo appearance in the draw with Getafe since recovering from his latest hamstring blow.

The Barcelona boss said that the summer signing is fully fit to play against Girona but he refused to confirm whether he will give him a chance to prove his worth.

"We think Dembele is ready and that's why has been in the squad [in the last three games]. Then the manager will decided whether to use him or not depending on the game. We'll see [if he plays against Girona]," Valverde added.

Elsewhere, the Barcelona boss was also coy when asked about the recent reports linking with Catalans with Gremio starlet Arthur Melo.

The Brazilian midfielder himself said earlier this week that his move to the Nou Camp is "on track" days after Sport reported that Barcelona and Gremio have an agreement in principle for the player to move to the Nou Camp in January 2019 for around €40m.

But pressed about his opinion on the 21-year-old mifielder and whether he has seen him in action, Valverde said: "Arthur? What is his surname? Ah okay. [Arthur the midfielder from Gremio], I thought you were asking about an actor. He plays for another team. We respect the players who are in other teams. Yes, [I have seen him playing] We see many players but he is in another team."