‘Messi won’t want rest but he needs it’ – Barcelona must manage workload, says Rivaldo


Lionel Messi will not want to take any more breaks between now and the end of the 2019-20 campaign, but Rivaldo feels Barcelona should be offering rests to their talisman if they surge clear in the Liga title race.

Barca will be back in competitive action on Saturday when they take in a trip to Real Mallorca. It remains to be seen how prominently Messi figures in that contest, with the Argentine having nursed a knock since a return to full training in Spain.

Regardless of how much game time he sees in the opening round of games, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner can be expected to have a key role to play for Barca over the coming weeks.

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They will be looking to the mercurial forward for inspiration in pursuit of another league crown, with only a two-point lead over rivals Real Madrid as things stand.

Rivaldo, though, believes that Messi’s workload needs to be carefully managed and that manager Quique Setien should take his captain out of the firing line – saving him for Champions League tests to come – if a commanding advantage can be opened up in pursuit of the domestic title.

The Barca legend told Betfair: “Lionel Messi had some physical issues last week, so there's a lot of discussion about whether he play the whole game for Barcelona in their first game back against Mallorca on Saturday.

“Barca are two points head of Real Madrid at the top of the table so the title race is tight. If Barca can pull away, they could rest Messi in a few games.

“If the battle goes to the wire then he might have fewer chances to rest - perhaps only in games which Barca manage to dominate from the first-half - but it will be important for Quique Setien to manage his squad well, as it won't just be Messi that will reach the first game still looking to be 100% fit, after all everyone has stopped and it's not easy to resume on the best form.

“As we know, Messi is always in contention for the 'Pichichi' top scorer award in La Liga and always making the difference in the team, so he wants to be on the pitch all the time and it's difficult for the manager to rotate him. He also fights for the Ballon d'Or every season and that's on his mind regularly, so you can't go to Messi and simply tell him 'take a rest'.”

Messi has added another 24 goals to his remarkable tally through 31 games this season, with an 11th La Liga title and fourth Champions League crown still very much in his sights.

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