Messi in line for 400th Barca appearance

Lionel Messi has been named in Gerardo Martino's squad for what could be his 400th appearance for Barcelona in Wednesday night's Copa del Rey tie at Levante.

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona

The Argentina forward, who has scored 331 goals in his 399 appearances so far, was included in Martino's 18-man squad for the cup clash, but Andres Iniesta misses out as he continues to recover from a knee injury he sustained in the goalless draw at Atletico Madrid on January 11.

Messi himself has only recently returned from a two-month injury lay-off caused by a hamstring problem, but Martino is not concerned he may be demanding too much of the player too soon.

"There is no need to think about Leo as a footballer coming off an injury," the Barca coach told a press conference on Tuesday.

"He has played the last two games, feels fine and will continue playing. When we decide to rest him, then he will rest."

Messi, four-times winner of the Ballon d'Or, has come a long way since making his debut for the Primera Division leaders in 2004 aged 17 years.

The 26-year-old striker, who has never been sent off, posted his best scoring record in the 2011-12 season when he notched 73 goals in 60 games for the Spanish champions.

The Argentina star has scored 14 goals in all competitions so far this season, despite his two-month stint on the sidelines, and he can add to that total at the Ciutat de Valencia on Wednesday.

Alongside the three-time Golden Boot winner, who has won 21 pieces of silverware at the Nou Camp, Dani Alves and Carles Puyol - who both missed the 1-1 league draw against the Valencia-based side on Sunday - have also both been named in the squad.



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