Messi limped out of Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night just before the hour mark, and he faces a race against time to be fit for the Champions League clash with Manchester City at the Nou Camp on 19 October.
With Messi sidelined, Barcelona risk conceding more ground to Real Madrid in the La Liga battle, although their bitter rivals could only manage a 1-1 draw against Villarreal on Wednesday as they failed to take advantage of Barcelona’s draw. The Catalans sit three points behind Real, who lead the way in La Liga by two points over Sevilla.
“To lose Lionel Messi means football loses and we lose,” said Barcelona head coach Enrique.
He added: “Now we have to look for other solutions. With Leo we are much stronger, but without him we are still a strong team.
“Last year we had an unfortunate situation with a longer-term injury and my team played well.”
Highest paid footballers in the world
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – £18m
The Portuguese forward joined Real Madrid for £75m from Manchester United in 2009 and famously considers his pay packet as a score card.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona – £17m
Despite never being tempted to leave his beloved Barcelona, the Argentine ace is continuously offered lucrative new deals at the Camp Nou to keep him from moving away.
Hulk, Shanghai – £16.5m
The 29-year-old was one of the first big stars to join the Chinese revolution, leaving Zenit this year to sign an eye-watering seal with Sven Goran Eriksson’s latest club.
Neymar, Barcelona – £15m
Since joining Barcelona in 2013, the Brazilian ace continues to be linked with Manchester United, prompting the La Liga champions to keep him on a hefty yearly sum.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manchester United – £13m
Despite in the twilight years of his career, Zlatan continues to be paid handsomely now he is at Manchester United after leaving Paris this summer.
Graziano Pelle, Shandong Luneng – £12.5m –
While the £13m fee to prize Graziano Pelle away from Southampton was modest by Chinese standards, he is now the best paid Italian in history.
Thomas Muller, Bayern Munich – £11.5m
Another to be linked every season with a move to the Premier League, Bayern Munich striker Thomas Muller continues to earn his place among the world’s highest earners.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hebai China Fortune – £10.5m
The decision to leave Paris Saint-Germain may have raised eyebrows, but Ezequiel Lavezzi won’t mind too much on £10.5m a year.
Jackson Martinez, Guangzhou – £10m
Turning down interest from Liverpool and Chelsea, the Colombian forward has been rewarded for putting his faith in the China project.
Thiago Silva, Paris Saint-Germain – £9.5m
Considered one of the best defenders in the world, Brazil international Thiago Silva currently receives in the region of £9.5m with the French champions.
The injury will force 29-year-old Messi out of Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Paraguay next month as well as Barcelona’s second Champions League group match against Borussia Monchengladbach next week, although he could return in time to face City in what would be a reunion with Pep Guardiola.
Messi will also miss league matches against Sporting Gijon and Celta Vigo.
He suffered last season from a hamstring injury that kept him out of 10 matches over October and November, although Barcelona coped extremely well without him as Neymar and Luis Suarez inspired the side to claim eight victories during the run without Messi.
Suarez believes that the pair can do the same this time around, although the trio were held out by Atletico as Ivan Rakitic scored for Barcelona last night only for Atletico’s Angel Correa to equalise soon after Messi’s departure.
“It is a difficult injury that hurts and leaves you sad,” said Suarez. “Now we have to take responsibility.”