Lionel Messi has shaken off a knock and his in “perfect condition” to face Sporting Gijon, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has said. Luis Enrique has dismissed any concerns over the fitness of Lionel Messi ahead of Barcelona’s clash with Sporting Gijon on Saturday. The Argentina star is reported to have been limited in first-team training since the 8-0 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday. There had been fears Messi could be forced to sit out some of the Liga title run-in, but Luis Enrique says he is fully fit to face Abelardo’s side.
“Messi is in perfect condition. He took a knock against Depor. He trained well and is ready for tomorrow,” the Barca boss said on Friday.
Looking ahead to the game, the coach continued: “There have always been surprises if you look at the last 10 seasons, especially in the last five. We have to be prepared to make sure this affects the others and not us. The teams at the bottom of the table have to win and the fans in the home games will be vital.”
Luis Suarez scored four goals and set up another three in the Riazor rout and has now scored 49 times for the season in all competitions. Luis Enrique, however, was keen to highlight the contribution of the entire team, rather than single out the Uruguay striker as the most in-form star. “Right now, after such a great result, I’m going to say it was great play by the entire team – the goalkeeper, the defenders, the midfielders who helped our attackers,” he said. “Not many can get four goals and three assists, it’s fantastic, but we look from the perspective of the team.”
The coach went on to defend the form of Andres Iniesta following Barca’s disappointing run of three consecutive league defeats prior to Wednesday’s game. “I think he’s been good all season, just as well as last season, when he was incredible. He’s decisive on and off the field, there are few players who have the intelligence he does to create spaces and operate in attack and defence. He’s a unique player.”
Barca unveiled the designs for the refurbishment of Camp Nou on Thursday – a multi-million euro project which will see the exterior of the ground revamped, a roof added and the capacity increased to just over 105,000. Luis Enrique welcomed the prospect of a rebuild but rejected any suggestion that he is worried his transfer budget will be restricted as a result of the cost.
“I think it’s fantastic to improve a unique stadium,” he added. “The idea they have looks great. It’ll be a few years and they’ll need the cooperation of fans and members because we need to keep playing in different conditions. I’m not worried at all [about funds]. The president said very clearly that the sporting side would not be affected. We have to consider that this is a difficult team to reinforce, we have many of the best players in the world. But I’m completely relaxed.”