MADRID: World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has been named in new Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino’s squad for the champions’ opening La Liga game against Levante on Sunday.
Messi had missed Argentina’s friendly victory over Italy on Wednesday due to a quadriceps strain, but returned to training on Friday and Martino confirmed that both he and Cesc Fabregas — who also missed Spain’s victory over Ecuador in midweek due to injury — will be fit to play.
“Both players have trained almost normally so they shouldn’t have any problem in playing,” he said at a press conference on Saturday.
Martino also confirmed that he has advised the club not to sign a central defender before the transfer window shuts on September 2.
The Catalans have been linked with Chelsea’s David Luiz and Liverpool’s Daniel Agger in recent weeks, but Martino is confident that, barring a number of injuries, they have the cover required at the back.
“I know the club was looking for a central defender before I arrived. What I said to them was that (Carles) Puyol is recuperating well, with (Gerard) Pique, (Javier) Mascherano, (Marc) Bartra and even Adriano and (Sergio) Busquets, we are fine.
“If there are any injuries, then we have the winter transfer market.” Despite Puyol’s progress after having knee surgery in July though, the 35-year-old is not expected to be back in action before September.