Barcelona - Barcelona coach Luis Enrique insisted Lionel
Messi is fit enough to face Alaves on Saturday, but may be protected with a run
of seven games in 22 days to come for the Spanish champions.
Messi missed Argentina's World Cup qualifier with Venezuela
in midweek due to a groin problem, whilst the return of Neymar for the first
time this season after winning Olympic gold with Brazil increases the
temptation for the Barca boss to hand Messi an extended rest.
"Yes," insisted Enrique when pressed on whether
Messi was fit to play.
"During the week he was able do part of the training
sessions with the team and another part on his own. We will focus on the needs
of the team and make sure the player is in the best condition possible."
Enrique is blessed with a series of options up front as
Spanish international Paco Alcacer could make his debut after sealing a 30
million euro ($33 million) move from Valencia, whilst Arda Turan and Denis
Suarez have also impressed in Neymar's absence as the Catalans have made a 100
percent start to the season.
Also see: PHOTO: Lionel Messi's dog is bigger than him!
"There will be incredible players left in the stands or
on the bench," added Enrique.
"I speak with all my players. We know how things are
and the things we have to take care of."
Barca's splurge in the transfer market in the off-season was
their first for two years after serving a two transfer window ban on
registering new players for irregularities in the signing of foreign players
Rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have now been hit by
a similar punishment, but Enrique hopes they don't weather the ban as well as
his side did in winning a La Liga and Copa del Rey double last season.
"They will have to face up to it and we hope they don't
achieve the same results as us."For
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