Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has claimed that Lionel Messi has become fatigued following his recent heroic displays for both club and country.
Messi has already played four matches this month. Prior to the international break, the Argentine scored a brace against Las Palmas in La Liga; he then went on to international duty, playing two 90 minute matches, one of which included a Messi-esc display which saw him bag a fantastic hat-trick to take Argentina to the World Cup finals; before returning to Barcelona to gain them a hard-fought point against Atletico Madrid.
Following the game against Atletico, Valverde told the press that five-time Ballon d’Or recipient Messi was fatigued after a hectic month, but reserved praise for his talisman for what he could produce when not performing at full throttle.
Reported by FourFourTwo, Valverde said: "I agree that Leo is tired after the games he's had to play, but we know he'll always respond in any situation. We know how much fear he instils in the opposing players and fans."
Barca’s 1-1 draw with Atletico finally put an end to the Catalonian’s perfect start to the season, having won each of their opening seven matches in La Liga. Nevertheless, they still remain top of the table, five points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Barca will now take on Greek giants Olympiakos on Wednesday night in their Champions League Group D clash at the Nou Camp, before taking on last-placed Malaga at home on Saturday in the league.