Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi Getty

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde welcomed Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitic back to training on Wednesday morning (15 November) as the La Liga leaders stepped up preparations for the trip to Madrid to face Leganes.

Messi played the full 90 minutes during Argentina's 1-0 victory over Russia on weekend before withdrawing from the squad ahead of the second friendly against Nigeria on Tuesday [14 November].

Valverde opted to give his star some days off ahead of the coming clash with Leganes with Messi missing the first two days of Barcelona training this week.

Meanwhile, Rakitic played both legs of the World Cup play-off between Croatia and Greece, helping his national team to book a place in Russia 2018 with a 4-1 aggregate win.

"Wednesday training at the Ciutat Esportiva saw the return of Leo Messi and Ivan Rakitic, following their international commitments. The pair joined up with the group in preparation for this Saturday's game against Leganés, on Matchday 12 of the LaLiga season," Barcelona confirmed on their official website.

Carles Aleñá, Adrian Ortolá, Alberto Varo and Jose Arnaiz were promoted from the second team into the training session as Valverde awaits the return of a number of players who remain away on international duty, including captain Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.

The Barcelona boss has been forced to prepare for the weekend trip to Madrid without a number of key players due to the international break.

Other members of his squad like Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan have used the break to step up their recoveries from their respective injuries to boost Valverde's options ahead of a busy week which will see the Catalans visit Leganes before a crucial Champions League clash at Juventus.

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez has also made the most of the break to try to recover from the knee woes which has hampered him during the opening part of the campaign.

Barcelona are currently leading La Liga following an impressive start to the season, four points ahead of Valencia and eight over Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

Valverde's side could even increase the gap this weekend with Real facing Atletico at the New Wanda Metropolitano just hours after the Catalans' corresponding clash at Leganes.