Lionel Messi, second left, has played every game for Barcelona in 2017. Vincent West / AFP
Lionel Messi, second left, has played every game for Barcelona in 2017. Vincent West / AFP

Barcelona consider resting Lionel Messi in coming weeks due to ‘brutal schedule’



Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has said Lionel Messi will have to be rested for some of an April packed with huge matches, but that even the Catalan giants would struggle without the “best player in the world”.

Messi has started every Barca game in 2017 and will do so once more when Valencia visit the Camp Nou on Sunday.

However, Barcelona face 10 games in April after a two-week international break, including a two-legged Uefa Champions League quarter-final against Juventus and crucial Primera Liga fixtures against Sevilla and Real Madrid.

“To do without the best player in the world is difficult, but we have thought about resting him,” Enrique said on Saturday.

Barca trail Madrid at the top of the Primera Liga by two points, but have also played a game more than their rivals.

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“La Liga will be decided in the last few games. The most decisive part of the calendar is still to come,” Enrique said.

“It is a brutal schedule for those us in European competition and those at the bottom are going to fight too.”

Barca’s route to a potential second treble in three seasons under Enrique before he leaves at the end of the campaign wasn’t made any easier by a pairing with Juventus in Friday’s Champions League draw.

Enrique’s men beat the Italian champions 3-1 in the final two years ago to complete the treble.

And despite a significant turnover in personnel for Juventus in the intervening two years, he expects a “frightening” challenge.

“We have the final in Berlin fresh in our minds,” Enrique said.

“They have changed players, but they are a difficult and frightening opponent of the standard you expect in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.”

Off the field, tying down Messi’s long-term future remains Barca’s priority with just over a year to run on the Argentine’s contract.

However, club captain Andres Iniesta’s deal is also due to run out in 2018.

Iniesta said this week his intention was to sign a new deal but that he wouldn’t hang around if his role within the squad deteriorated.

And Enrique hopes Iniesta, 32, decides to stay rather than following former teammate Xavi Hernandez’s example in playing out his twilight years in Qatar.

“There are two options when you get to the last few years,” Enrique said.

“One is to stay with the club you always have been with, which is what I want. The other is to go like Xavi, which I also understand.”

* Agence France-Presse

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KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The biog

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