Messi: 'I thought it would be the last time I'd touch the ball for a long time.' Barcelona star reveals fears over long-term knee injury
17:44 GMT, 6 December 2012
Lionel Messi will sit out Barcelona's next two training sessions after suffering a painful knee injury against Benfica, but he has revealed the knock is healing far quicker than expected.
Messi has 84 goals this calendar year – just one behind Gerd Muller's 1972 record of 85 – and Barcelona will need him on Sunday having won only one of their last 10 visits to Betis' Benito Villarmarin stadium.
The Argentine has a bruised bone in his left knee after a collision with goalkeeper Artur and will stay in the gym while his team-mates prepare for Sunday's game against Betis.
Stricken: Lionel Messi was injured after coming off the bench against Benfica
Record: The injury to Messi has put his attempts to beat Gerd Muller's 40-year calendar year goalscoring record in doubt
Despair: Both Messi and the Barcelona trainers knew something was wrong as soon as the player went down
FOUR GAMES TO GRAB THE RECORD
December 9 – Real Betis (A)
December 12 – Cordoba (A) Copa del Rey last 16, first leg
December 16 – Atletico Madrid (H)
December 22 – Valladolid (A)
Speaking on Thursday at the launch of a new advert for Turkish Airlines in which he stars alongside NBA star Kobe Bryant, Messi said: 'I was in pain after the knock, so I thought it was really bad. Luckily, it was just that, a knock.
'I’m fine, better than yesterday already. I don’t know if I’ll be ready for Sunday’s game, will depend on evolution.
'What happened yesterday, can happen on training too. Every time you’re out on the pitch, there’s a risk to get injured. The truth is I did not think about
anything because all I could feel was the pain. But in a moment I
thought the worst. When it was shown it was not a severe injury I was
'I sincerely thought it was the last ball I would be touching for a long time because of the pain. I tried to go ahead and shoot but I didn't have the strength.
'I am not obsessed with breaking records. It will be nice because (Muller's record) has stood for so long and if I break it then i hope my record stands for as long.'
Club doctor Richard Pruna will decide, along with the player and his coach Tito Vilanova, if he can
train normally on Saturday and then travel to Seville for Sunday night's
match with fourth placed Betis.
The Nou Camp were calling for Messi
just before the half time whistle of last night's draw with Benfica and
Villanova gave in to their demands early in the second half only for
the No 10 to go down holding the back of his knee five minutes from
In-flight entertainment: NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and Messi star in an advert for Turkish Airlines
Worried: Messi left the field on a stretcher after receiving treatment on the pitch
Unprecedented: Messi, who has 84 goals so far this year, needs two more to break Muller's record
Drama was heightened when the player
was carted to the far corner of the ground, because the electronic car
carrying his stretcher wouldn't fit down the tunnel, and whisked away
Messi suffered several long-term
injuries at the start of his Barcelona career but has not broken down
since March 2008 when he injured a thigh muscle against Celtic keeping
him out for six weeks.
His four years under Pep Guardiola
were almost injury-free with the then Barcelona coaching bringing in
podiatrists and dieticians to help prevent injuries.
Ouch: Messi was injured during a Barcelona attack late in the game
In the wars: Messi was fouled on a number of occasions during the game with Benfica
One of the doctors used by Guardiola
Xavier Gasso was important in linking the player's frequent muscle
injuries with his feet and remedying the situation by adusting the sole
inserts in his boots.
Last night Barcelona fans feared the
old problems had returned but a medical report issued at half-past
midnight local time calmed those concerns.
The good news also got coach Vilanova
off the hook with critics ready to blame him for bringing Messi on in
what was a dead rubber game for Barca.
He said: 'I would not do anything differently. We had spoken before about the possibility of him playing for 30 minutes.
'He is a player who always wants to
play, and not because he is about to break a record – something which
everybody else is talking about but that he never mentions.
'If we were concerned about the record then I would have played him and all the other first team players from the start.'