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The president knows the Blaugrana can ill-afford to lose their talisman through injury...

Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists the club cannot take risks with the fitness of Lionel Messi as the seasons end draws closer.

The Argentine international has been inspirational in the past few weeks, netting a sensational hat-trick versus Valencia last weekend, before dismantling Stuttgart in the Champions League in midweek.

Pep Guardiola hinted yesterday that Messi may miss this evening’s trip to relegation-threatened Real Zaragoza, as he is suffering from an abscess on his gum, but he has included him in the squad for the trip.

Laporta, who met with 600 autograph hunters upon arrival in Zaragoza this afternoon prior to this evening’s kick off, stated that it is important not to play the Ballon d’Or winner if he is not fully fit.

He said to the waiting journalists, “I always to see [Lionel] Messi play, because he is the best player in the World, but [Pep] Guardiola needs to make a decision because we cannot endanger him.

“If he does not play, we will still be a competitive team.”

Barcelona require a victory this evening to join Real Madrid at the summit of the Primera Division table, after los Blancos’ 3-1 victory over Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

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