Barcelona have suffered a crucial injury blow with news that Lionel Messi faces up to two months on the sidelines, after being substituted just 10 minutes into the club's 2-1 victory over Las Palmas on 26 September. The Argentine star required medical treatment and a trip to hospital after a collision with Pedro Bigas and it has since been revealed that he suffered a ligament tear in his left knee.
Such an absence could see Messi, who has scored six goals in all competitions so far this term, miss his side's next 10 outings including the first 'El Clasico' derby of the season against fierce rivals Real Madrid in late November. Reigning champions Barcelona currently trail La Liga leaders Villarreal by a single point and host Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League in midweek before travelling to face Sevilla.
"The tests carried out confirm that Leo Messi has suffered a tear in the medial collateral ligament of his left knee," Barcelona confirmed shortly after the match. "He will be out for around six to eight weeks according to a statement from the club's medical staff."
They were also eager to provide a reminder that injuries of this nature to the former Ballon d'Or winner are very rare indeed. The statement continued: "The last time that Leo Messi missed a game due to injury was during the season 2013/14, on 10 November 2013. The Argentine suffered a muscle injury in a league game against Betis which forced him to miss nine matches in all competitions."
Losing a player of Messi's unrivalled quality for any period of time would come as a significant loss to any team and would no doubt convince many managers to drastically alter their system. Barcelona have enviable strength in depth in attacking positions, however, and boss Luis Enrique insists that it is now up to the team to compensate for his absence.
"We won't change our style of playing with Messi injured," he was quoted as saying by The Mirror after a goal in each half from Luis Suarez secured a fifth league win of the season despite Jonathan Viera reducing the defeicit late on. "He decides a lot of games, but the team has to step up now as a collective."