Lionel Messi will undergo a minor kidney operation on Tuesday, according to Spanish outlet Sport.
Messi missed the Club World Cup semifinal in December due to renal colic, a type of abdominal pain commonly caused by kidney stones, and this operation is said to be related to that earlier issue.
Messi played all 90 minutes in Sunday's win over Levante but was reportedly excused from training with the team on Monday. He is expected to miss Barcelona's Copa del Rey semifinal second leg against Valencia on Wednesday.
The defending Copa del Rey champion routed Valencia 7-0 in the first leg at Camp Nou last Wednesday. Messi scored a hat trick, and Luis Suarez scored four goals in the lopsided match.
Messi, who won his fifth Ballon d’Or last month as the world’s best player, could return to training as early as Thursday, according to the report. Barcelona released a statement Monday explaining that Messi's absence is due to "several tests" regarding his kidneys, but stopped short of saying he was having surgery:
FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi will undergo several tests on Monday and Tuesday to assess the evolution of the kidney problems he suffered last December. Messi will return to his normal duties with the first team on Wednesday.
- Christopher Chavez