Barcelona will not risk Messi against Inter, assures Valverde

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Barca's captain and all-time top scorer was initially ruled out for approximately three weeks after sustaining the injury against Sevilla on October 20, although he returned to training last week.

"We are used to seeing San Siro always full and the fans can give us a hand, especially tomorrow when it will be important".

Messi, 31, was included in the squad to travel to Italy this week and reports in Spain suggested the Argentina maestro was keen to feature in order to boost his Ballon d'Or aspirations before next month's award ceremony.

"We expect a lot from him", Valverde said in his post-match media conference. "Of course, it is necessary for Messi to recover". One is that he plays from the start, or he comes on, or he goes off.

"There are three or four options, but we will not take risks [with Messi]".

The Catalan giants trailed 2-1 to Rayo entering the final stages of the match in Madrid, but Ousmane Dembele levelled the scores in the 87th minute before Suarez's second of the night secured a late win for the visitors.

They also beat Inter 2-0 in the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp without Messi.

If Barcelona win the match, they'll qualify from the group as winners.

He said: "To already be in this situation in the fourth game of the group is great".

"Being in this situation in such a hard group is fine, and we would like to win".

"We need to control the game to have that chance", Valverde added.

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