Barcelona: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique admitted it is impossible to replace Lionel Messi as the European champions face up to living without the four-time World Player of the Year for up to eight weeks.
Lionel Messi. Pic/AFP
Messi suffered a tear in the medial collateral ligament of his left knee during Saturday's 2-1 win over Las Palmas and looks set to miss Barca's next eight games. "A player like Leo is irreplaceable," Luis Enrique said ahead of his side's return to Champions League action at home to Bayer Leverkusen today.
"In pre-season none of Leo, Neymar or (Luis) Suarez played, but our idea of how to play didn't change. It is a challenge for us to be without the best player in the world, but it also provides an incentive for us."
Messi is expected to miss La Liga games against Sevilla, Rayo Vallecano, Eibar, Getafe and Villarreal, as well as Leverkusen's visit and two clashes with BATE Borisov in the Champions League.
However, Luis Enrique is confident the 28-year-old will be fit for Barca's first meeting with Real Madrid this season on November 21. "Leo came in yesterday for the medical check-up and he looked good, he was in high spirits," added the coach. "Time is in his favour."