The Silver Lining of Messi’s Side-Lining

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Can any good come from the captain of your squad and arguably one of the greatest players alive today being side-lined for a the upwards of a two months?

When the team that the four-time Ballon d’Or winner plays for has the depth of talent that Barcelona does, maybe there is something positive that can come out of Leo’s seven week recovery schedule.

First, is that young talent like Sandro Ramirez and Munir el Haddadi will be called upon to show their skills. Both of the young forwards have been with the club since their teenage years, and both have tallied goals for the club in their debuts. There isn’t a person in the stands or on the squad who doesn’t believe they are a talented future for Barcelona.

Munir scored his first goal for Barca eight days before his 19th birthday.

The fact is that Messi’s polarizing talent has put a cap on the amount of playing time the youngsters have had. While some people would argue that these two forwards are untested, there really is no better way of getting them in the mix. It’s unfortunate that it comes at the expense of star player, but this experience is likely to be crucial to the development and maturity of these two young prospects.

It’s worthwhile to acknowledge secondly the fact that though injured, Lionel Messi is nowhere close to out of the picture.

Even when he sustained his injury against Las Palmas, Messi was examined in the dressing room, taken to the nearby hospital for tests, and then back on the sidelines to support his team before the final whistle. Despite how long it will feel for the Barcelona faithful until they see their star again, Messi is not going to simply check-out from team affairs.

He’s going to be at training and with his team, supporting them, giving them guidance, doing everything he can from the sideline to help those young players mentioned above grow and develop. He understands his role as an icon for the Barcelona squad and he takes it seriously.

He’s an invaluable resource to the team, even when sidelined, and if he takes the young forwards under his wing, helps them develop and succeed, he’s just as essential as he would be booted up and playing.

Messi has never been considered selfish or arrogant towards younger players, don’t expect the injury to change that.

Thirdly, Messi has already gotten some good news. The injury, a tear in the internal collateral ligament of his left knee, is looking closer to seven weeks for recovery, and Argentina’s head doctor, Donato Villani, clarified the nature of Messi’s injury.

“It’s not a tear that requires surgery. It heals with an initial rest from sport and then kinesiology.”

Surgery always adds on time to recovery schedules as the body adjusts to the trauma that comes from having ligaments and muscles reattached, but Messi will thankfully be able to avoid all that.

There is always the issue as well of players lacking confidence when back from surgery, scared that the injury will happen again and it will be more severe. Messi is on track for a rest/rehab recovery that slowly works his confidence back up to play in his top form.

Lastly, and maybe most important overall to both his personal recovery and how the club handles this adversity is that Messi is in good spirits. He sent out a personal message on his facebook page about his mindset and the nature of the injury:

“Thank you all for your supportive messages. For anyone who loves football, the hardest thing is not to be on the pitch. Now it’s time to recover properly to come back. A big hug.”

In four sentences the Argentinian made clear: I appreciate all the love. It’s hard not being out there, but I know taking recovery seriously is the fastest way back, and I love all of you too.

Will it be difficult?

Undoubtedly. Barcelona have suffered tremendous injury setbacks already in their 2015 campaign. They are in a ruthless Group E for Champions League and there isn’t a slouch in their Liga schedule.

But champions overcome rather than make excuses, and expect Messi to hold his club to that standard whether he’s leading the attack or supporting from the sidelines.

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