Lionel Messi has been withdrawn from Barcelona's squad ahead of their league clash against Malaga on Saturday due to 'personal reasons', the club have confirmed.
The 30-year-old had been expected to return to the starting lineup for the Blaugrana after being rested for the club's midweek Catalan Super Cup encounter clash with Espanyol, but he will not make his return as defender Yerry Mina has been confirmed to have taken his place.
[LAST MINUTE] Change to the squad. Messi is out for personal reasons and Yerry Mina takes his place— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 10, 2018
Messi's absence on Saturday will be his first in La Liga this season having been on an unstoppable run of form which has seen him net 24 goals and provide 12 assists in his 27 appearances.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde had planned to rotate his squad with his side's crucial Champions League encounter with Chelsea awaiting on Tuesday, but as they are still without Nélson Semedo, Denis Suárez and Andrés Iniesta rotation is likely to be limited.
Whilst Malaga sit comfortably at the bottom of the La Liga table having accumulated just 13 points, Messi's absence will come as a blow to Barcelona who will be looking to extend their lead a top of the table to 11 points.
Valverde has warned his side not to be complacent against the league dwellers as the title race is not yet over, he said, via the Express: "The teams in the bottom part of the table are the ones who pick most points in the final part of the season.
"Malaga are at a point where they really need points and this game is another chance for them. Every game is important and not winning would mean a lot more pressure going into the next game."