Why Lionel Messi is not playing for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao in La Liga opener

Lionel Messi starred for Barcelona once against last season.

The 32-year-old scored 36 goals and provided 15 assists as the Catalan giants secured the La Liga title.

However, Barca will still feel they have a point to prove this term after their Champions League capitulation at the hands of Liverpool and the Copa del Rey final defeat by Valencia.

Messi famously addressed a packed Nou Camp ahead of the 2018/19 season saying the club would be going all-out for Champions League glory.

The Argentine, though, does not regret making the declaration.

Speaking ahead of the new campaign, Messi said: “I don’t regret anything. I can only repeat what I said last season.

“I believe in this squad, in these players, in the coaching staff. Together, we are going to fight for everything.”

Barcelona travel to San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao this evening but talisman Messi won’t be involved.

  • READ MORE: HOW TO WATCH ATHLETIC BILBAO VS BARCELONA

Why is Lionel Messi not playing?

Messi was not included in the squad list for the trip to Bilbao.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner picked up a calf injury in pre-season and subsequently missed Barca’s tour of the United States.

He has not played competitively since the Copa America.

Messi has been doing recovery work in an attempt to be fit for the La Liga opener but manager Ernesto Valverde wasn’t prepared to take any risks.

“We don’t take risks with any players, so especially not with Leo,” Valverde said.

“He’s still not trained with the team and doing recovery work is not the same as working with the team.

“We’re going to wait a little bit and see, but he’s recovering well.”

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