Ernesto Valverde has admitted that Lionel Messi's injury during Barcelona's 4-2 win over Sevilla at the Nou Camp comes as a huge blow to his team.
Heading into the game, Barcelona hadn't won any of their last four La Liga matches, however they certainly didn't look like a team struggling for form early on as Philippe Coutinho put the hosts 1-0 up in superb fashion with Lionel Messi doubling Barca's lead after just 12 minutes.
There was then a moment of concern for the Catalans when Messi landed awkwardly on his arm and despite attempting to continue, he was substituted just 26 minutes into the game with his arm heavily wrapped. The injury looked to dampen the mood around the stadium, however Barca got their third courtesy of a Luis Suarez penalty.
Sevilla pegged a goal back before Ivan Rakitic made sure of the point with a well-taken volley which found the bottom corner. Sevilla substitute Luis Muriel grabbed a late consolation goal in stoppage time, however that was all it was as Barcelona ran out comfortable 4-2 winners.
Speaking to Barcelona's official website after the game, Valverde insisted he was pleased that his side regained the top spot in La Liga whilst also heaping the praise on star striker Suarez after his very impressive performance. He said: “It’s very important for us to have regained top spot in the league. This time it was us who got an early goal.
"He (Suarez) is the same as ever, fighting hard, creating chances and a constant headache for opponents. He got involved tonight, scored a goal, and we’re happy with him.”
It was a crucial win for Barca, however the key talking point of the game was the injury to Messi with reports confirming he will miss up to three weeks with a fractured arm, meaning he will not be part of Barca's two big upcoming clashes against Inter in the Champions League and Real Madrid in El Classico.
Valverde admitted that whilst Messi's injury comes as a big blow to his side, he believes they have enough strength in depth to cover during the Argentine's absence. He added: "Of course he's a major loss.
"We know what he does for us and what our opponents think just by seeing him on the pitch. We have the players to cover for him, but we have some very tough games coming up.”
Fans will be wishing Messi a speedy recovery, whilst the rest of the Barcelona team will be fully focused on carrying their winning momentum forward into the next two crucial games.