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Barcelona can't rush Messi back - Rivaldo

03:44 EAT 27/09/2019
Lionel Messi vs Villarreal
The Brazilian has urged the Catalans to resist any temptation to bring back their star player prematurely

Barcelona have been warned against rushing Lionel Messi back from injury by club legend Rivaldo.

The Catalan star has struggled for fitness this season and lasted just 45 minutes in the club's midweek win over Villarreal.

Rivaldo, who spent five seasons at Camp Nou and enjoyed a playing career spanning over two decades, is adamant Messi must be given the time to fully recover from any lingering injuries.  

"As the Argentinian returns from injury, the club need to be careful about not rushing him back," Rivaldo wrote in his column for Betfair

"He's 32 years old and has been playing at the highest level for a while without any rest, so it's normal to see him starting to feel some pain at times.

"The club needs to let him fully recover so that he doesn't suffer a recurrence of his injuries right after returning to the team. It doesn't matter if he misses two, three weeks or a month. When I was in my early-thirties, I thought I would never get injured, or feel pain, but it wasn't the truth and those kinds of problems started to come.

"Being 32 is not the same as being 25, so you need to manage your fitness better.

"I don't see this as a sign of decline in Messi, though, as he will come back and have a few more years at the highest level." 

Aside from his start against Villarreal, Messi's only other minutes this season have come via two substitute appearances, with Barca revealing he's now battling an adductor injury in his left thigh

While barely featuring so far this season, the Argentine did star across the 2018-19 campaign and recently picked up The Best award for his performances. 

Though debate has raged over whether Cristiano Ronaldo or Virgil van Dijk deserved the award more, Rivaldo is convinced Messi was a worthy winner. 

"Despite being a tight voting, I believe Lionel Messi deserved this award for everything he has done last season," he wrote.

"Yep, he only won La Liga, but he scored more than 50 goals and assisted 20, playing almost 60 matches of high demand.

"Sometimes it could be debatable what to value more: the team titles or the individual performances. For me, though, this is an individual award, so Messi was the best in 2019 even though his teams didn't win as many titles as they wished."