Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde gives update on Lionel Messi’s fitness ahead of UCL encounter vs Borussia Dortmund

Lionel Messi

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has given a mixed update on Lionel Messi’s fitness ahead of their opening UEFA Champions League 2019/20 encounter vs Borussia Dortmund.

Messi has been out of action since the start of the season and is yet to make an appearance this season. He returned to training only a couple of days ago and despite being named in the Barcelona squad to face Dortmund, question marks over his fitness remain.

While talking to the media ahead of the Dortmund encounter, Valverde revealed that the team management will take a decision on whether to play Messi or not before the game.

“We’ll decide before the game,” he said. “It wasn’t very clear a week ago if he could come, but he was with the team in the last few training sessions, finishing well, taking the fear of pain out of his mind. We’ll see what we do.”

The Barcelona manager also all but confirmed that the club’s 16-year-old winger is in line to be handed his UCL debut.

“I’ve not spoken with him, save for tactical matters,” he said. “I don’t like the history of giving advice. Of course I will talk with him, but you have to give him some breathing space.

“What he is doing is exceptional. If he plays, it’s not so he can break a record, but because of the needs of the team. We love him.”