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Messi could play a deeper role against Malaga, says Barcelona boss Martino

Gerardo Martino hinted he may consider using Lionel Messi in a deeper role when Barcelona host Malaga this Sunday.

The 51-year-old coach believes his fellow Argentine has the characteristics necessary to play in support of his fellow attackers, rather than through the middle on his own.

"I’ve spoken to him about it being a possibility [playing deeper], the variation of him playing behind the three forwards, but not from the start," Martino explained to reporters on Saturday.

"It happens when he plays with Cesc [Fabregas] and we did it against Levante, when [Jean Marie] Dongou came on for a few minutes."

Elsewhere, Ibrahim Affelay returns to the Blaugrana squad for the first time since May 2012 after spending last season on loan with Schalke, but Martino is aware of the possibility of the winger departing before the close of the current transfer window.

"I’m very happy he’s had the medical all-clear. He’s got more and more into his football rhythm," the Blaugrana boss continued. "We thought it was a good time to include him. He’s looked very good this week.

"In principle, the plan is for him to stay with us, but no one can say whether or not something significant will come up and he doesn’t stay. The transfer window has these ups and downs."