Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta is yet to play a game since the win over Malaga on 21 October. Getty


  • Captain could return to action on Saturday while the Frenchman should be back after Christmas.
  • Arda Turan, Aleix Vidal, Rafinha Alcantara, Andre Gomes and Sergi Roberto will miss the game due to injuries.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is "optimistic" Andres Iniesta will be ready to return to action when the La Liga leaders host Sevilla on Saturday (4 November).

The 33-year-old midfielder has not played a game since scoring a goal during the Catalans' 2-0 victory over Malaga on 21 October. The captain sustained a muscle injury during a training session before last weekend's clash with Athletic Club Bilbao and remained on the sidelines when Barcelona visited Olympiakos in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

However, Barcelona revealed on Thursday that Iniesta was back in training and on Friday Julen Lopetegui decided to name him in the Spain squad for the coming friendlies against Costa Rica (11 November) and Russia (14 November).

Valverde hopes that Iniesta can prove in a final training session that he is fit to face Sevilla but the Barcelona boss suggested that, if this is not the case, he shouldn't play with Spain either.

"Players who are not to fit to play with their clubs before the international break normally travel to join up with the national team with a medical report. Anyway, we are optimistic that he can play with us [against Sevilla] and that he can be available," the Barcelona boss said in a press conference. "Lopetegui has a lot of confidence in Andres. He is optimistic like us and has included him in his squad."

"Yesterday [on Thursday] he trained with us, he did not complete the session and is yet to receive the medical clearance. We have to wait for the last training session to see if he makes the squad."

Iniesta's potential return will be a major boost for Valverde after earlier in the week, Barcelona revealed that Sergi Roberto and Andre Gomes are set to be on the sidelines for around five and four weeks respectively due to different muscle injuries sustained during the goalless Champions League draw at Olympiakos.

Meanwhile, the visit of Sevilla will also come too early for Ousmane Dembele, Rafinha Alcantara, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal.

Dembele is yet to play a game since suffering a serious muscle injury during Barcelona's 2-1 victory over Getafe on 16 September.

Barcelona ruled him out for three-and-a-half months following an operation and Valverde has now reiterated that the recovery is going according to that schedule.

"Yesterday he was doing some exercises in the sand. Still without boots. The recovery process is going normal. I speak with him. He is happy because he is doing well. The players always want to go faster but we think that we cannot count on him until after Christmas," Valverde confirmed.

Meanwhile, Vidal and Turan are expected to be back much sooner than that after missing the last two games due to respective ankle injuries.

"He is sidelined. We have already explained it." the Barcelona boss replied when asked about the former Sevilla wing-back. "He has a problem in the operated ankle. Yesterday he spoke with the doctors and is doing better so we think that in a short time he will be with us.

Turan's situation is more uncertain although the Turkey international looked to be out of Valverde's plans even before the injury.

The former Atletico Madrid star is tipped to leave the club in January but when asked whether Turan could eventually have a chance to resurrect his career at the Nou Camp, Valverde said: "I hope so. He is a player with experience and talent. But the truth is that he is injured. We have to wait until he recovers to see if he can be an alternative for us."